Countless function-based interventions have been designed by behavior analysts who initially conducted an isolated functional analysis (FA) over the past 40 years. Over the last five years, researchers have suggested that a FA variation called the Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis (IISCA) may be an alternative assessment that can benefit practitioners and the learners they serve when individualizing Skill-Based Treatment (SBT). Dr. Billie Retzlaff has conducted many functional analyses and function-based interventions for learners in clinical and school settings, but has not yet encountered a situation in which an IISCA would be clinically beneficial in her judgement. Furthermore, Dr. Retzlaff and her colleagues hypothesized that synthesizing contingencies within a FA would lead to the iatrogenic effect of a learner’s behavior being evoked in the presence of novel establishing operations and discriminative stimuli, and that novel functional reinforcers would be induced for the target behavior. In this episode’s interview, Dr. Retzlaff discusses her 2020 article from the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis entitled “A translational evaluation of potential iatrogenic effects of single and combined contingencies during functional analysis.” Dr. Retzlaff tested this hypothesis by designing and executing a translational evaluation in which isolated-contingency FAs were used before and after a Synthesized Contingency Analysis (SCA) to determine if reinforcer induction occurred as a product of the SCA. Additionally, Dr. Retzlaff provides take-away points from this article, highlights key concerns with the IISCA and SCA, and provides recommendations for what steps practitioners can take as alternatives to the synthesis of contingencies in assessment.
Billie J. Retzlaff, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Intermediate District #917 BCBA,
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John Staubitz, VKC-TRIAD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center,
Will Martin, Autism in Motion Clinics,
Retzlaff, B.J., Fisher, W.W., Akers, J.S. and Greer, B.D. (2020), A translational evaluation of potential iatrogenic effects of single and combined contingencies during functional analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 53: 67-81. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.595