Journal scan

Study raises questions about clinical outcomes associated with positive behaviour support training

Of services where staff underwent training only 30% produced positive behaviour support plans that included all essential components

Of services where staff underwent training only 30% produced positive behaviour support plans that included all essential components


Picture: iStock

A major, multi-centre, longitudinal English study has reported on the clinical outcomes achieved for 246 people with learning disabilities, across 23 specialist community services. 

Services either continued to deliver ‘treatment as usual’, or their practitioners were given additional training in positive behaviour support (PBS), including approaches to assessment and intervention, and ongoing mentoring and support for the duration of the study.

The results demonstrated similar reductions in behaviours of concern in the ‘treatment as usual’ services and the PBS-trained services. Similarly they found no significant differences in terms of psychotropic medication reduction or increased community engagement.

Of concern, however, was that in the PBS-trained services, and despite practitioners having highly rated the training and mentoring arrangements, only 30% of the PBS plans produced included all the essential components of a good quality PBS plan.

The study does not call into question the effectiveness of PBS; rather it raises questions about how best to deliver training and ensure the necessary context and mechanisms are in place, so that training leads to changes in the way that people are supported. 

Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse


Hassiotis A et al (2012) Clinical outcomes of staff training in positive behaviour support to reduce challenging behaviour in adults with intellectual disability: cluster randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry. 12, 1-8.
doi: 10.1192/bjp.2017.34

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs