University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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Ann Neville-Jan PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Ann Neville-Jan

Associate Chair of Curriculum & Faculty and Associate Professor, joint appointment with the Keck School of Medicine of USC Department of Pediatrics


Ann Neville-Jan joined the University of Southern California's then-Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in 1989. In the decades since, she taught research, theory and clinical courses in the minor in occupational science, the occupational therapy professional program and the PhD program in occupational science. Her courses included content necessary for mental health practice in occupational therapy, occupational science theory and disability studies. Prior to her full time academic career she held positions as Director of Occupational Therapy at the Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center, as the Rehabilitation Coordinator for Psychiatric Services at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center and as the Education Coordinator at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Her publication and research areas included chronic pain, depression and secondary conditions associated with disability. Past research included a study, funded by the American Cancer Society, of the everyday experiences of Latinas with pain from breast cancer and another study, funded by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, of individuals diagnosed with Major Depression. Dr. Neville-Jan was an expert in spina bifida, both as a consumer of services and as a research scientist. She held positions with the American Occupational Therapy Association and was invited to participate on panels of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, and was a consultant to the NIH's National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research.
Dr. Neville-Jan died suddenly in February, 2015, after suffering complications from surgery.

Research Interests

From 2001 to 2004, Dr. Neville-Jan and Dr. Mary Lawlor, through an NIH-funded disability supplement, conducted a research study focused on the everyday life experiences of 14 adults with spina bifida, using narrative, ethnographic and longitudinal methods. They continued to examine the data across the cohort of 14 adults respective to developmental trajectories, how ordinary participation becomes extraordinary and the significance of life choices for social participation and identity shaping. Dr. Neville-Jan and a multidisciplinary, multi-site team (physicians, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists) are conducting a CDC- and AUCDD-funded study of the effectiveness of bowel and bladder interventions for children with spina bifida, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. As co-principal investigator, Dr. Neville-Jan led the qualitative component of the grant.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy
New York University

Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy
Columbia University

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology
Towson State University


Book Chapters

Neville-Jan, A. M., Fazio, L., Kennedy, B. L., & Snyder, C. (1996). Elementary to middle school transition: Using multicultural play activities to develop life skills. In L. D. Parham & L. S. Fazio (Eds.), Play in occupational therapy for children. (pp. 144-158). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

Barris, R., Kielhofner, G., Neville-Jan, A. M., Oakley, F. M., Salz, C., & Watts, J. H. (1985). Psychosocial dysfunction. In G. Kielhofner (Ed.), A model of human occupation: Theory and application. (pp. 271-282). Baltimore, MD: William and Wilkins.

Barris, R., Levine, R., & Neville-Jan, A. M. (1985). Occupation as interaction with the environment. In G. Kielhofner (Ed.), A Model of Human Occupation: Theory and application. (pp. 42-62). Baltimore, MD: William and Wilkins.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (1981). Temporal adaptation: Application with short-term psychiatric patients. In A. K. Briggs & A. R. Agrin (Eds.), Crossroads: A reader for psychosocial occupational therapy. Rockville, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Journal Articles

Freeman, K. A., Smith, K., Adams, E., Mizokawa, S., & Neville-Jan, A. M. (2013). Is continence status associated with quality of life in young children with Spina Bifida?. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 6, 215-223. doi:10.3233/PRM-140263. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

PURPOSE: To evaluate the relationship between child- and parent-reported quality of life (QOL) and bowel and bladder continence among young children with spina bifida (SB).
METHODS: 104 children ages 5-12 years and one of their parents/guardians completed the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory - Generic Form (PedsQL; parent and child) and the Quality of Life in Spina Bifida Questionnaire (QOLSBQ, parent only). Data on continence, child age, and condition-specific variables were obtained by chart review.
RESULTS: Parent and child QOL scores (on all measures of QOL) were positively correlated; parents rated child QOL lower than children's self report. QOL scores did not differ based on continence status. Total PedsQL scores were associated with age and mobility based on child report and with mobility based on parent report.
CONCLUSIONS: QOL may not be affected by continence status among young children with SB, though demographic (i.e., age) and condition-specific (i.e., functional mobility status) variables appear relevant. Additional research is needed to further evaluate condition-specific variables, other protective variables, and possible measurement issues that influence QOL in young children with SB.

Smith, K., Freeman, K. A., Neville-Jan, A. M., Mizokawa, S., & Adams, E. (2010). Cultural considerations in the care of children with spina bifida. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 57, 1027-1040. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2010.07.019. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube fails to close during early fetal development, resulting in a range of neural tube defects (NTDs). The cause of spina bifida is not fully understood, but scientists believe that NTDs are the result of genetic and environmental factors acting simultaneously. The Centers for Disease Control reports that spina bifida and other NTDs occur more frequently in some ethnic groups, such as Hispanic people, than in others. The United States is increasingly multicultural and diverse, and it is becoming more difficult to categorize individuals into a single racial/ethnic group. This article uses the term ethnicity as defined by the Institute of Medicine and avoids using race unless part of a particular study.

Smith, K., Mizokawa, S., Neville-Jan, A. M., & Macias, K. (2010). Urinary continence across the life course. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 57, 997-1011. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2010.07.018. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

Spina bifida is the most common defect of the central nervous system. It is a congenital malformation of the spine with abnormal neural tube closure occurring between the third and fourth weeks of gestation, and most frequently affecting the lumbar and sacral regions. Most children with spina bifida have a normal urinary tract at birth, although renal damage and renal failure are among the most severe complications of spina bifida. Before ventricular shunting, survival rates for children with spina bifida were low, but most patients can now be expected to live into adulthood, thus prevention of urologic complications and promotion of continence have become critical. This article reviews the literature regarding urinary continence, and discusses issues across the lifespan, and implications for clinical practice and the pediatrician's role in the urologic care of children with spina bifida.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (2005). The problem with prevention: The case of spina bifida. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 527-539. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.5.527. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

In this paper, I present a viewpoint about prevention and spina bifida that is not usually expressed within the occupational therapy literature. Using an autoethnographic account, I convey my experiences as a person with impairments from spina bifida in order to problematize current preventive efforts undertaken to eradicate this birth defect. This self-reflexive account connects my personal experiences to historical and medical views about spina bifida. The messages inherent in preventive efforts are discussed from a disability rights perspective. Occupational therapists are challenged to examine their attitudes toward disability, act as advocates in their practice, and, in a more informed manner, support or contest policy initiatives.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (2004). Selling your soul to the Devil: An autoethnography of pain, pleasure, and the quest for a child. Disability & Society, 19, 113-128. doi:10.1080/0968759042000181758. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

In this article the author presents an autoethnography in the form of a quest narrative linked as a self-reflexive text to her continuing research of children and adults with spina bifida. The story centers on the themes of chronic illness, pain and sexuality, highlighting gaps in the literature related to these topics. She narrates her story as a manifesto for women with physical impairments to break their silence and talk about their sexuality. She recommends autoethnography as a method of understanding disability as embodied.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (2003). Encounters in a world of pain: An autoethnography. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, 88-98. doi:10.5014/ajot.57.1.88. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

Pain, a major health problem in the United States, is a highly complex and subjective experience that is poorly understood by many medical, psychological, and rehabilitation practitioners. In this paper I use a qualitative research methodology, autoethnography, to present a personal narrative about my experience of chronic pain. In this research I am both the research participant and the researcher. I begin with my personal narrative. I then problematize conceptions about chronic pain and discuss them from the point of view of my own narrative and from stories and ethnographies in the literature. Finally I reflect on how occupational therapists can more effectively work with persons with chronic pain.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (1995). The relationship of volition to adaptive occupational behavior among individuals with varying degrees of depression. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 12(4), 1-18. doi:10.1300/J004v12n04_01. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

Using the Model of Human Occupation as a theoretical framework, this study examined the relationship between volition and adaptive occupational behavior among subjects with varying degrees of depression. Clinical observation and a review of the literature suggested three variables from the model's volition subsystem as deficient in people who are depressed I hypothesized that these three variables, namely locus of control, interest, and future time perspective affect the depressed person's ability to engage in adaptive occupational behavior. A correlational design was used to examine this relationship. One hundred volunteers from inpatient psychiatric units, outpatient psychiatric programs, and evening college classes participated in the study. Each subject completed an internal-external locus of control scale, a future time perspective inventory, a measure of interest (both degree of participation and degree of enjoyment), and a measure of severity of depression. In addition, the researcher (and assistants) interviewed each subject about their use of time. This interview provided a measure of adaptive occupational behavior. Partial correlation analysis, controlling for depression, showed a significant positive relationship between volition and adaptive occupational behavior. Of the three variables studied, pleasure (a dimension of interest) showed the strongest association with adaptive occupational behavior. Locus of control showed a small relationship and future time perspective a significant negligible positive association Implications for future research are suggested.

Neville-Jan, A. M., Piersol, C. V., Kielhofner, G., & Davis, K. (1993). Adaptive equipment: A study of utilization after hospital discharge. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 8, 3-18. doi:10.1300/J003v08n04_02. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

This article describes a quality assurance study of patient utilization of adaptive equipment. A major component of occupational therapy practice has been the prescription of equipment to increase independent living. However, little information exists in the literature regarding patients use of equipment. The researchers found an unexpected high rate (85%) of utilization. Reasons for non-utilization are described. Caution is needed in interpreting the results as non-responders (22%) may have been primarily non-users. Based on the findings, the authors suggest establishing a system to retrieve items needed for a short time and individualizing the process of issuing equipment based on environmental and personal needs as opposed to the standard protocol based on a diagnosis.

Clark, F. A., Zemke, R., Frank, G., Parham, D., Neville-Jan, A. M., Hedricks, C., Carlson, M. E., Fazio, L., & Abreu, B. (1993). Dangers inherent in the partition of occupational therapy and occupational science [The issue is]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47, 184-186. doi:10.5014/ajot.47.2.184. Link to full text

Neville-Jan, A. M., Bradley, M., Bunn, C., & Gehri, B. (1991). The Model of Human Occupation and individuals with co-dependency problems. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 11(2-3), 73-97. doi:10.1300/J004v11n02_06. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

This paper presents an occupational therapy program designed specifically for individuals described as having a co-dependent personality disorder. Co-dependency is a new term with many definitions and descriptions appearing in both the popular and scientific literature. The program is based on the Model of Human Occupation and a psycho-educational approach. A review of the literature related to physical and sexual abuse, alcoholism, and co-dependency is presented and organized according to concepts in the Model of Human Occupation. The theoretical model determines the conceptual areas related to occupational performance that are appropriate for the occupational therapy program. Three phases of the occupational therapy program — evaluation, treatment, and aftercare — are described.

Neville-Jan, A. M., Kreisberg, A., & Kielhofner, G. (1985). Temporal dysfunction in schizophrenia. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 5(1), 1-17. doi:10.1300/J004v05n01_01. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

Persons diagnosed as schizophrenic present with a number of temporally related dysfunctions. The Model of Human Occupation is used as a way of organizing and understanding the multifactoral nature of temporal dysfunctions in schizophrenic disorder. A case vignette illustrates these temporal problems. Temporally-oriented assessment and treatment strategies are presented. Finally, research questions are suggested to further explore the temporal dimension in schizophrenic individuals.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (1980). Temporal adaptation: Application with short-term psychiatric patients. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 34, 328-331. doi:10.5014/ajot.34.5.328. Link to full text Abstract →← Abstract 

This paper begins with a literature review to investigate temporal dysfunction and its relationship to psychopathology and to adaptation. A specific program begun in a short-term hospital with psychiatric patients is then described. This program uses temporal adaptation as a framework for assessing patients' use of time and for developing methods to increase productive use of time.

Other Articles

Neville-Jan, A. M. (2005, February 5). Life’s worth more than a ‘Million’ [Guest Commentary]. The Pasadena Star News, p. A14.

Neville-Jan, A. M., & Lawlor, M. C. (2003). Managing appearance: A qualitative study of adults with spina bifida (Abstract). European Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 13, S1-S11.

Neville-Jan, A. M. (1985). The Model of Human Occupation and depression. Mental Health Special Interest Section Quarterly, 8(1), 1-4. Link to full text