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People with learning disabilities who also exhibit challenging behaviour live in a social context that should be considered in order to understand and deal with their behaviours. This context includes the characteristics of staff members, and their satisfaction with the whole culture and environment in which they work. The social context will also affect and be affected by staff emotions and attitudes towards the residents in that living environment. The present paper describes a preliminary investigation into staff satisfaction, and staff emotions and attitudes towards residents in a traditional setting for people with both learning disabilities and serious challenging behaviours and it discusses the implications for future research. The findings indicate that staff satisfaction was low and could be improved considerably in terms of management support. However, the level of satisfaction in working with the residents in the unit was high, as were the perceptions of practical support from immediate colleagues. The results also showed the coexistence of different attitudes and emotions whichcould be described as positive and negative in individual staff members. To assess this, the present authors used a new, 13-item analogue measure, the Attitudes to People Who Display Challenging Behaviour questionnaire. The level of such attitudes and feelings in this particular context did not vary noticeably relative to whether staff members felt well supported by the service or not. This new measure may well have applications in future research in this area. © 2002 BILD Publications, British Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Learning Disabilities

Publication Date





19 - 27