Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Matthew O'Brien

Second Advisor

Stewart Ehly

First Committee Member

David Wacker

Second Committee Member

Scott Lindgren

Third Committee Member

William Liu


Previous research has suggested that increases caregiver interaction quality may lead to subsequent reductions in child problem behavior. However, there is little research evaluating whether successful reductions in problem behavior through behavioral treatment may positively impact the caregiver-child relationship. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether successful implementation of an empirically validated, reinforcement based-treatment for children who display challenging behaviors (functional communication training, or FCT) leads to changes in caregiver interaction quality. A retrospective data analysis was conducted using assessment and treatment sessions conducted via telehealth for a federally funded research project (Lindgren & Wacker, 2011). Five caregiver-child dyads were included in the current study, and caregivers conducted all sessions while being coached on behavioral procedures via telehealth by a trained behavior specialist. No caregiver received any direct training intended to improve or modify caregiver-child interactions during playtime. Appropriate and inappropriate interactive caregiver behaviors were recorded throughout all playtime intervals during assessment and treatment. Results indicated that child problem behaviors were significantly negatively correlated with caregiver interaction quality for 3 out of 5 caregiver-child dyads; however, for 1 caregiver-child dyad, child problem behavior and caregiver interaction quality were significantly positively correlated. Additionally, positive increases in caregiver interaction quality rarely maintained throughout treatment. In conclusion, the results show that improvements in child problem behavior can favorably impact caregiver interaction quality. However, additional supports may be necessary to maintain these effects over time.


xii, 91 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 87-91).


Copyright © 2017 Anna Day Ryan