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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #477
CE Offered: BACB
Burnout and Injury Mitigation: Investing in the Safety and Well-Being of Staff and Behavior Analysts
Monday, May 27, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 3, Liberty Ballroom Salon BC
Area: OBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Andrew Sodawasser (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Andrew Sodawasser, M.A.
Abstract: Practitioners providing behavior analytic services to individuals with autism, challenging behavior, or intellectual and developmental disabilities are consistently tasked with identifying strategies to improve patients’ interventions and overall experience within their services. As a result, behavior analysts often find themselves allocating most of their time focusing on each of their patients’ individual needs, leaving little time to focus on their own well-being, or the well-being of their staff and colleagues. This symposium aims to address this area through a review of three studies focused on the safety and well-being of both direct care staff and behavior analysts. Dr. Lauren Phillips and colleagues will provide results from their study evaluating an online training program focused on teaching staff antecedent and consequence identification skills within their behavioral health facilities. Dr. Natalie Andzik and colleagues will discuss a review of research on and strategies for mitigating burnout among BCBAs. Finally, Emily Sullivan and colleagues will present their study evaluating staff’s perception and use of protective equipment, as well as how it relates to their physiological stress responses and potential risk of injury, within a clinic based severe behavior program.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Burnout, Staff Safety, Staff Training
Target Audience: This presentation is targeted at Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, Therapists, and Mental Health Practitioners that work with and/or supervise direct care staff that specialize in the treatment of behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Identify at least one training program designed to improve the identification of antecedent and consequences within a behavioral health setting; 2) Identify at least one model for developing decision making criteria related to the use of staff protective equipment; 3) Identify at least one strategy BCBAs can use to combat burnout.
The Use of a Virtual Module in Training Safety Skills in a Human Services Organization
LAUREN PHILLIPS (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Ashley Marie Fuhrman (Trumpet Behavioral Health)
Abstract: This study investigates the efficacy of training programs in enhancing the performance of direct support professionals and behavior analysts within a large behavioral health company. The focus of the training was on correctly identifying antecedent and consequence procedures to manage challenging behaviors effectively. An online e-learning platform was employed to deliver this training to all newly hired staff. The research findings indicate an increase in correct staff responding on module-based posttests as compared to pretest responding. This suggests that the training program effectively improved the knowledge and skills of the participants in using antecedent and consequence procedures in their work. The study highlights the practical utility of online e-learning platforms in training a large workforce. These results are of particular importance in the context of applied behavior analysis service delivery, where the effective management of challenging behaviors is crucial. The results emphasize the value of investing in training programs for direct support professionals and behavior analysts to ensure high-quality care for individuals with behavioral health needs. Further research may explore the long-term impact of such training on staff performance and the overall quality of care in behavioral health settings.
A Scoping Review of Research on and Strategies for Mitigating Burnout Among Board Certified Behavior Analysts
NATALIE ANDZIK (Northern Illinois University ), Michael Kranak (Oakland University), Chloe Jones (Oakland University), Kayla Grunewald (Oakland University)
Abstract: Board certified behavior analysts are experiencing an all-time high and alarming rate of burnout. Burnout can lead to high turnover rates, general unsatisfaction with both work life and home life, and (potentially) unethical clinical practices. These factors can directly impact service provision for individuals with autism and may also have a compounding impact on peers in the work place. In this evaluation we conducted a scoping review of research on and strategies for mitigating burnout among board certified behavior analysts. Results indicated that there has been a recent increase in empirical evaluations studying burnout, but overall, very little work is occurring in this area. Board certified behavior analysts can rely on evidence-based strategies from both within and outside behavior analysis to combat burnout. In this evaluation we summarize and discuss core components of interventions aimed at addressing and mitigating burnout for board certified behavior analysts and directions for future research.
The Effects of Therapist Protective Equipment on Severe Problem Behavior and Safety
EMILY SULLIVAN (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Insitute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (The May Institute), Amanda Zangrillo (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Wearing protective equipment (PE) is a common safety practice in professions involving heightened risk in the workplace. These include therapists employed in settings that assess and treat severe problem behavior. PE is clothing or adapted equipment worn by a therapist to increase safety by preventing or mitigating injury. Considerations for when, how, and why to apply PE vary across clients, organizations, and the level of clinical expertise available. Study 1 surveyed 27 employees of a university outpatient clinic regarding their use and perceptions of therapist PE. Overall, participants nominated more reasons they chose not to wear PE with clients. In Study 2, participant safety was examined during a pairwise replication of each client’s preassessment functional analysis. Three PE conditions were evaluated: participant choice, informed selection, and no PE. The results indicated that the informed selection of PE led to greater impact-site protection than participant-chosen PE. The analysis resulted in minimal participant injury, however, increases in physiological stress responses occurred throughout the assessment, most notably during test sessions, when compared to an out-of-session baseline.



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