Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. David O. Lyon

Second Advisor

Dr. Arthur Snapper

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Mountjoy

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lawrence-Patterson


The literature on the design of mental health service systems and techniques to generate performance in the workplace was reviewed and synthesised to create guidelines for developing cost effective behavior change in mental health systems. The present study was an examination of the cost effective application of monetary bonuses to the completion of training objectives by professional and paraprofessional staff in a residential service setting. Training objectives consisted of the teaching of specific survival skills to adult mentally retarded clients that were designed to enable clients to move to more independent settings.

Two experiments were performed. Experiment 1 examined the effect of monetary bonuses on performance in a multiple baseline design across two groups of subjects. The application of bonuses increased the rate of objective completion. The cost per objective completion decreased with the application of bonuses. Experiment 2 examined the relative effect of increasing staff hours versus the application of monetary bonuses to objective completion across two groups of subjects in a multiple baseline design. Increases in staff hours affected performance inconsistently, while the result of bonus application was similar to Experiment 1. If management has the choice of hiring additional personnel and providing bonuses contingent upon completion of objectives, it is clear from Experiments 1 and 2 that providing bonuses is a viable option.

The cost per behavior change under the two alternative staffing patterns were compared, allowing predictions regarding higher level goal attainment. It was determined that through the continued use of monetary bonuses contingent upon objective completion, the movement of clients to more independent settings would increase. The application of bonuses contingent upon completion cost less than $20.00 per week, while the cost of additional hours cost more than $70.00 per week. The use of bonuses was clearly effective in reducing the cost per objective completion. The increase in staffing did not have a consistent effect.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access