A menu of potential reinforcers in a methadone maintenance program

Joy M. Schmitz, Howard Rhoades, John Grabowski

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This study demonstrates the use of paired comparisons and interval scaling techniques for measuring the relative priority of program privileges available at a methadone maintenance clinic. Fifteen methadone program privileges were combined in all possible pairs (N = 105) on a reinforcer menu and administered to a group of 12 methadone patients and a second group of counselors (N = 4). Data were converted to interval scales using the law of comparative judgment to form a quantitative continuum from least to most preferable. Free methadone, free dental service, and more take-homes were ranked highest in both groups; however, patients showed less differentiation in their preference for these privileges. Dose decreases were least preferred. Results are discussed in terms of their clinical applicability in identifying privileges for potential use in modifying the behavior of drug abusers. The method of paired comparisons has excellent psychometric properties and may offer some advantages over other response scale formats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-431
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994



  • behavioral-pharmacological interventions
  • contingency
  • interval scaling
  • methadone maintenance
  • paired comparisons
  • reinforcer

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