Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #122
CE Offered: BACB
Exploring Novel Strategies Increasing and Assessing Physical Activity in Diverse Populations
Saturday, May 23, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon B
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Caitlyn Upton (Rowan University)
Discussant: Wendy Donlin Washington (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Wendy Donlin Washington, Ph.D.

Although physical activity is associated with improved long-term health outcomes, a large number of adults and children fail to meet physical activity guidelines. Contingency management is an effective approach to increasing physical activity, however the cost of the incentives is a barrier to dissemination and implementation. The first speaker two speakers will address this issue by exploring novel strategies for reducing costs. McCurdy and colleagues will describe his research using a group-deposit-incentive, prize-bowl approach with adults, whereas Hanashiro-Parson and colleagues will describe their study comparing token economy vs monetary incentives to increase physical activity among individuals with intellectual disabilities. The last two speakers will address novel strategies for evaluating physical activity, for example using heart rate in a bout analysis with children (Batchelder) and a hypothetical behavioral economic measure of demand for physical activity (Burrows). Dr. Donlin will discuss the implications of these finding.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): behavioral economics, contingency management, heart rate, physical activity
Target Audience:

Researchers interested in conducting research on physical activity

Effects of a Group-Deposit Prize Draw on the Step Counts of Adults
ALEX MCCURDY (University of the Pacific), Matthew P. Normand (University of the Pacific)
Abstract: Contingency management (CM) interventions have been used to increase physical activity. However, clinical adoption has remained limited, calling into question the social acceptability of such interventions. Some researchers have suggested that the limited adoption is due, in part, to the costs associated with CM interventions. In the current study, we minimized those costs by combining a prize-based intervention and a deposit contract to incentivize increases in physical activity exhibited by healthy adults. We used an ABA reversal design to analyze the steps participants took during a 12-day baseline, a 21-day intervention, and a 7-day return to baseline. Physical activity increased for four of six participants during the 3-week intervention. However, when given the opportunity to continue the intervention for another 2 weeks, only one participant elected to do so. As such, the acceptability of the intervention should be addressed in future research.

Bout Analysis Alternating Vigorous Physical Activity With Light and Moderate Activity

SYDNEY BATCHELDER (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Carole M. Van Camp (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Casey Mckoy Irwin (University of North Carolina Wilmington)

The current recommendation for physical activity for children is 60 min or more of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) per day (CDC, 2015). Many children are not currently meeting the CDC recommendations for MVPA, though they may engage in intermittent exercise while playing outside. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to evaluate HR measures when children engaged in a vigorous (run) physical activity 50% of the session, alternated with rest (sitting), light activity (walking slowly), or moderate activity (walking briskly) for the remaining 50%. First, participants ran for bouts of either 30-s, 1 min, 1.5 min, or 2 min alternated with rest periods. HR remained in the moderate zone for the highest percentage of session in 30-s and 1 min bouts, but decreased below the moderate zone during rest periods extending to 1.5 and 2 min. We then alternated run activities with rest, light, and moderate activities in 1.5 min bouts. Preliminary results indicate spending non-running time engaged in a light or moderate activity maintains HRs in the moderate zone more so than spending rest time sedentary. Findings will inform the most efficient way for children to meet CDC recommendations when engaging in physical activity in bouts.


Comparison of Token and Monetary Reinforcement to Increase Steps in Adults With Intellectual Disabilities in a Group Home Setting

HANA SOPHIA HANASHIRO-PARSON (University of South Florida), Raymond G. Miltenberger (University of South Florida)

The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of token reinforcement and monetary reinforcement for increasing physical activity among adults with intellectual disability and to assess choice of token or monetary reinforcement. An ABAB design with an alternating treatments design was used to compare token and monetary reinforcement for increasing steps during daily 1-hr sessions. In the second intervention phase, the participants chose between the two reinforcement conditions. Results showed that both reinforcement conditions increased physical activity and that some participants chose tokens and some chose money as the reinforcer for steps.

Validity of a Behavioral Economic Measure of Physical Activity
CONNOR ANDREW BURROWS (Rowan University), Matthew J Dwyer (Rowan University), Bethany R. Raiff (Rowan University)
Abstract: Physical activity is an important predictor of physical and psychological health, although th American adults show relatively low adherence to recommendations. Hypothetical purchase tasks have been validated in the measurement of behavioral economic demand for various self-reported health behaviors. The current study sought to establish validity for a Hypothetical Exercise Task (HET) across a number of activity intensities (Leisure, Walking, Moderate, and Vigorous ). Participants were grouped as either Low (LMVA) or High Moderate-Vigorous Activity (HMVA) based on their answers to the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Construct validity was established by fitting non-linear mixed-effects models to demand data across LMVA and HMVA participants. Demand intensity (i.e., the self-reported probability of engaging in physical activity at some minimal time cost) was compared across activity intensity for 51 participants recruited online via Mechanical Turk. The LMVA group exhibited decreasing demand intensity as a function of increasing activity intensity (90% to 81% probability of engaging in the activity), whereas the HMVA group did not (94% to 91%). These findings support the construct validity of the HET and future research will be aimed at further demonstrating validity, as well as establishing the clinical utility of demand metrics in addressing low rates of physical activity.



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