A Review of OBM in Human Service Settings

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Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Nicole Gravina and others recently published a study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management which reviewed Organizational Behavior Management interventions from 1990 to 2016 conducted in Human Service settings.

The team reviewed research published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (JOBM), and Behavior Analysis in Practice (BAP).  The team found 75 articles in their review, the majority of which came from JABA (44 articles), followed by JOBM (22 articles), and BAP (7 articles).  To meet inclusion criteria, all of the articles targeted organizations who served individuals with various special needs and sought to improve staff or leader performance.

The authors found that the majority of work focused on improving the integrity of treatment protocols across a variety of treatment settings.  The most prevalent type of intervention found in the review related to staff training and performance feedback and targeted front-line staff.

Based on their review, the team made several recommendations for future OBM work in the Human Service sector, some of which echoed previous calls for research.  First, they recommend that OBM interventions target the behavior of leaders rather than front-line staff.  Doing so would increase the likelihood that effects will maintain in the face of staff turnover.  They further recommend that interventions expand the scope of their focus beyond treatment integrity to include larger organizational issues related to staff turnover and refining administrative work processes in agencies.

The team further noted that much of the literature in their review had imprecise descriptions of the intervention components used.  The latter issue could potentially impede efforts to replicate and expand the work of others in such settings.  Additionally, a minority of the studies utilized functional assessments before the intervention to inform researchers as to the possible functions of staff behavior.  Finally, while most studies targeted staff behaviors, few examined the outcomes of those behaviors on the client populations they served.

To read more about the study, including its limitations, be sure to check out the full article here.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

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