Establishing the feasibility of direct observation in the assessment of tics in children with chronic tic disorders.

TitleEstablishing the feasibility of direct observation in the assessment of tics in children with chronic tic disorders.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHimle, MB, Chang S, Woods DW, Pearlman A, Buzzella B, Bunaciu L, Piacentini JC
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Date Published2006 Winter
KeywordsAdolescent, Behavior Therapy, Child, Feasibility Studies, Female, Humans, Male, Neurologic Examination, Observation, Social Environment, Statistics as Topic, Tic Disorders, Tourette Syndrome, Videotape Recording

Behavior analysis has been at the forefront in establishing effective treatments for children and adults with chronic tic disorders. As is customary in behavior analysis, the efficacy of these treatments has been established using direct-observation assessment methods. Although behavior-analytic treatments have enjoyed acceptance and integration into mainstream health care practices for tic disorders (e.g., psychiatry and neurology), the use of direct observation as a primary assessment tool has been neglected in favor of less objective methods. Hesitation to use direct observation appears to stem largely from concerns about the generalizability of clinic observations to other settings (e.g., home) and a lack of consensus regarding the most appropriate and feasible techniques for conducting and scoring direct observation. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate and establish a reliable, valid, and feasible direct-observation protocol capable of being transported to research and clinical settings. A total of 43 children with tic disorders, collected from two outpatient specialty clinics, were assessed using direct (videotape samples) and indirect (Yale Global Tic Severity Scale; YGTSS) methods. Videotaped observation samples were collected across 3 consecutive weeks and two different settings (clinic and home), were scored using both exact frequency counts and partial-interval coding, and were compared to data from a common indirect measure of tic severity (the YGTSS). In addition, various lengths of videotaped segments were scored to determine the optimal observation length. Results show that (a) clinic-based observations correspond well to home-based observations, (b) brief direct-observation segments scored with time-sampling methods reliably quantified tics, and (c) indirect methods did not consistently correspond with the direct methods.

Alternate JournalJ Appl Behav Anal