Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Gerken, Kathryn C.

Second Advisor

Wacker, David P.

First Committee Member

Kopelman, Todd G.

Second Committee Member

Cooper-Brown, Linda

Third Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart

Fourth Committee Member

Northup, John


Elopement is a potentially dangerous behavior that can result in accidental injury or death. Assessment and treatment of elopement in children has most frequently been examined using behavioral approaches. Most of these evaluations have typically been conducted in settings where assessment and treatment occurred over extended periods of time (such as inpatient units, residential treatment centers, or day treatment programs). As more children present for assessment and treatment of elopement in outpatient clinics, a need exists for efficient and pragmatic means of assessing and treating elopement. This study examined a novel way to assess and treat elopement behavior in young children in an outpatient setting. The purpose of the current study was to address three questions: (a) Could a brief methodological approach be used for rapidly assessing and treating elopement in young children within typical outpatient time constraints, (b) could a competing stimuli treatment including brief preference assessments, differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors, and response cost reduce elopement attempts and increase latency to elopement, and (c) could the initial treatment protocol be expanded to further clarify effective treatment strategies through component analyses? Data were collected within a brief multielement (across conditions) design combined with multiple baseline (across 2 participants). The results of this study suggested that (a) a brief methodological approach to assessing elopement can be successfully implemented within typical outpatient constraints, (b) the competing stimuli treatment can be used to reduce elopement attempts and increase latency to elopement in young children, (c) supplementing the initial protocol with a component analysis can further specify effective treatment strategies. These results extend the elopement literature by assessing and treating elopement within typical outpatient clinic setting time constraints.


Assessment, Brief Methods, Elopement, Outpatient, Treatment


viii, 74 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 57-60).


Copyright 2011 LaKaren Deann Rickman