The efficacy of noncontingent escape for decreasing children's disruptive behavior during restorative dental treatment

Patrick M. O'Callaghan, Keith D. Allen, Shawn Powell, Fouad Salama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

We evaluated the effectiveness of a dentist-implemented behavioral intervention in which brief escape from dental treatment was provided on a regular basis, independent of the child's behavior. Within a multiple baseline design across subjects, 5 children, ages 4 to 7 years, were provided with temporary escape from dental treatment on a fixed-time schedule. The intervals were signaled by an electronic timer worn by the dentist. Clinically significant reductions were observed in physically disruptive behavior across all 5 children with the introduction of noncontingent escape, and verbally disruptive behavior was markedly reduced in 4 of the 5 children. In addition, the dental staff's use of physical restraint was reduced to near zero across all 5 children. The research extends the literature in both clinical dentistry and in applied behavior analysis by demonstrating that a dentist can easily and effectively implement noncontingent reinforcement to produce clinically significant and socially important changes in children's health behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Keywords

  • Dental visits
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Escape
  • Noncontingent reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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