Background: Although Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a widely used intervention for ameliorating challenging behaviour (CB), evidence for its use in adults with intellectual disability (ID) and comorbid autism (ASD) is lacking. We report a planned subsidiary analysis of adults with both ASD and ID who participated in a randomised trial of PBS delivered by health professionals.
Methods: The study was a multicentre, cluster randomised trial conducted in 23 community ID services in England, participants were randomly allocated to either the delivery of PBS (n = 11 clusters) or to treatment as usual (TAU; n = 12). One-hundred and thirteen participants (46% of all participants in the trial) had a diagnosis of ID, autism spectrum disorder and CB (ASD+); (47 allocated to the intervention arm, and 66 to the control). CB (primary outcome) was measured with the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist total score (ABC-CT). Secondary outcomes included mental health status, psychotropic medication use, health and social care costs and quality adjusted life years (QALYs) over 12 months.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences in ABC-CT between ASD+ groups randomised to the two arms over 12 months (adjusted mean difference = - 2.10, 95% CI: - 11.3 7.13, p = 0.655) or other measures. The mean incremental cost of the intervention per participant was £628 (95% CI -£1004 to £2013). There was a difference of 0.039 (95% CI - 0.028 to 0.103) for QALYs and a cost per QALY gained of £16,080.
Conclusions: Results suggest lack of clinical effectiveness for PBS delivered by specialist ID clinical teams. Further evidence is needed from larger trials, and development of improved interventions.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01680276.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Challenging behaviour; Intellectual disability; Positive behaviour support.