To evaluate whether the Community Support Services (CSS) Lunch Clinic can contribute to increased pleasure in eating and a reduction in challenging behavior during mealtimes by adjustments in environmental cues.
Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) who are currently clients at CSS.
This 8-week pilot program (30-minute session weekly) uses classical music to alter the eating environment for individuals with histories of rapid eating and disruptive mealtime behaviors. Behavioral changes during mealtimes are assessed via pre-/post test assessments from support staff.
Use of Research or Theory
Research suggests that music is an environmental factor that has direct influence on consumption patterns. Moreover, musical properties such as tempo and instrumentation can affect both the rate of eating as well as meal duration. The CSS Lunch Clinic incorporates these factors into a simple intervention involving the use of piano arrangements that are 45-120 beats per minute.
In a pre-test format, support staff were interviewed about their clients’ current eating habits and mealtime behaviors; the same individuals participated in a post test activity where they provided information regarding changes in their client's behavior. Staff input included observations of both positive and negative nonverbal cues such as frowning or smiling.
The observational data indicates that clients experienced the music as soothing and found the experience pleasurable. An assessment of reported nonverbal cues in the pre and post test interviews revealed a 50% increase in positive nonverbal cues (eg, smiling, swaying to music) and a 30% decrease in negative nonverbal cues (eg, frowning and restlessness) from the baseline. The staff additionally reported in the post test interviews that the clients responded positively to the Lunch Clinic, looked forward to the sessions, and seemed more relaxed during these mealtimes.
The CSS Lunch Clinic shows potential as a way to create a more enjoyable environment for the clients during mealtimes. Limitations included difficulty creating quantitative measurements to assess the eating pace and obtaining feedback from nonverbal clients. Future iterations of this program will continue to use staff observations as a primary research tool, a qualitative alternative to assess eating behavior.