The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 7–33 | Cite as

What is evidence-based behavior analysis?

  • Tristram SmithEmail author


Although applied behavior analysts often say they engage in evidence-based practice, they express differing views on what constitutes “evidence” and “practice.” This article describes a practice as a service offered by a provider to help solve a problem presented by a consumer. Solving most problems (e.g., increasing or decreasing a behavior and maintaining this change) requires multiple intervention procedures (i.e., a package). Single-subject studies are invaluable in investigating individual procedures, but researchers still need to integrate the procedures into a package. The package must be standardized enough for independent providers to replicate yet flexible enough to allow individualization; intervention manuals are the primary technology for achieving this balance. To test whether the package is effective in solving consumers’ problems, researchers must evaluate outcomes of the package as a whole, usually in group studies such as randomized controlled trials. From this perspective, establishing an evidence-based practice involves more than analyzing the effects of discrete intervention procedures on behavior; it requires synthesizing information so as to offer thorough solutions to problems. Recognizing the need for synthesis offers behavior analysts many promising opportunities to build on their existing research to increase the quality and quantity of evidence-based practices.

Key words

evidence-based practice clinical trials treatment effectiveness evaluation behavior analysis behavior modification 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of PediatricsUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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