Reviews of research on deinstitutionalization show that investigators have focused primarily on adaptive behavior changes of “movers,” while paying minimal attention to “stayers.” Analysis of their research also revealed some methodological problems. We assessed 150 movers and 150 stayers in 1994, before deinstitutionalization began in 1997. We matched samples on seven distinctive variables, which were again assessed at similar intervals of 3, 15, and 27 months after movement. Movers made significant gains in independence and household skills, while stayers incurred losses in social skills and cognitive competencies. Teaching domestic skills and high autonomy were the best predictors of final self-care and multicognitive competencies, after controlling for initial baseline scores.

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