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Contribution of occupational therapists in positive behaviour support


Perez, M and Carlson, G and Ziviani, J and Cuskelly, M, Contribution of occupational therapists in positive behaviour support, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 59, (6) pp. 428-436. ISSN 0045-0766 (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

©2012 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1440-1630.2012.01036.x



Positive behaviour support employs specific strategies which aim to both reduce the incidence of behaviours of concern and enhance the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities. This study aims to identify activities and experiences of occupational therapists working in behaviour support contexts to understand how they see their contributions in this area.


Semi‐structured interviews were undertaken with 10 occupational therapists who have provided behaviour support for people with intellectual disabilities. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.


Three major themes emerged from the interview data: contextualising and understanding behaviour; occupational therapy – why and how?; and ‘challenges, strengths and expanding horizons’.


Participants saw themselves as providing an occupational perspective in the delivery of behaviour support, to individuals with behaviour support needs. They highlighted that this was achieved utilising their skills and knowledge about positive behaviour support strategies. Their approaches were seen as drawing on: their understanding of neurological function and how it relates to a person's occupational engagement; combining occupationally focussed approaches with behavioural analysis methodology to guide practice; and advocating for person‐centred interventions. These observations form the basis for exploring ways in which occupational therapists can advance their contributions in positive behaviour support settings.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:behaviour modification, environment design, intellectual disability, quality of life
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Social work
Research Field:Counselling, wellbeing and community services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Allied health therapies (excl. mental health services)
UTAS Author:Cuskelly, M (Professor Monica Cuskelly)
ID Code:126243
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2018-05-30
Last Modified:2018-08-20

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