Nine Trojans publish in July/August AJOT
Nine members of the USC Trojan Family are cited as authors across three new research articles published in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Professor Sharon Cermak co-authored Atypical Sensory Modulation and Psychological Distress in the General Population. By examining a community-based sample of 204 adults who completed standardized assessments, Cermak and her co-author found the group with atypical sensory modulation — characterized by over- or underresponsiveness to sensory stimuli in one or more sensory systems — displayed considerably more psychological distress symptoms than that of the comparison group. The authors conclude that ASM may be a risk factor for developing other mental health concerns.
Seven USC Trojans — four faculty members, a staff member, an Occupational Science PhD student and an alumnus — authored Napping and Nighttime Sleep: Findings From an Occupation-Based Intervention. Authors include assistant professor Natalie Leland, alumnus Donald Fogelberg PhD ‘08, Occupational Science student Alix Sleight MA ‘12, OTD ‘13, PhD ‘18, research assistant professor Cheryl Vigen, staff member Jeanine Blanchard MA ‘99, PhD ‘10, research professor Mike Carlson, and associate dean, chair and professor Florence Clark.
The research team analyzed a sub-sample from the Lifestyle Redesign randomized controlled trial to describe sleeping behaviors and trends over time among an ethnically diverse group of community-living older adults. Of those participants who reported daytime napping at baseline, 36 percent no longer napped at follow-up. Among participants who stopped napping, those who received an occupation-based intervention replaced napping time with nighttime sleep, and those not receiving an intervention experienced a net loss of total sleeping hours.
Sleight also authored Toward a Broader Role for Occupational Therapy in Supportive Oncology Care with research assistant professor Leah I. Stein Duker MA ‘06, PhD ‘13, Postdoc ‘15.
Sleight and Duker advocate for an extended framework for those practitioners working in oncology beyond current conceptualizations of occupational therapy for cancer survivors that too often focuses solely on physical interventions. With a wider focus on function, the authors suggest that practitioners can better address the full spectrum of physical and psychosocial care for expanding the profession’s involvement in supportive oncology care.
AJOT publishes peer-reviewed research six times each year examining the effectiveness and efficiency of occupational therapy practice so that occupational therapy professionals can make informed, evidence-based decisions about best practice.
Friends with benefits in obesity research
New research shows how social and family relationships can improve adolescents’ obesity-related behaviors.
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. And in the nation’s ongoing fight against obesity, the quality of social relationships with peers and family members might buffer the impact of neighborhood economic contexts.
New findings published by USC researcher Sarah-Jeanne Salvy show that the quality of adolescents’ social and familial relationships predicts their obesity-related health behaviors, including eating habits, physical activity and amount of “screen time” using multimedia devices. Results appear in an early online access article of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
Salvy, a research associate professor at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and her colleagues at Santa Monica’s RAND Corporation examined longitudinal data gathered from more than 2,100 adolescents across Southern California enrolled in a middle school drug and alcohol prevention program.
The researchers measured the quality of adolescents’ peer relationships — defined as “peer social functioning” and reflected by answers to statements such as ‘I felt able to count on my friends’ and ‘other kids wanted to talk to me’ — their sense of “familism” — defined as a belief system often rooted in Hispanic culture in which the greater needs of the family supersede those of individual family members — and neighborhood-level socioeconomic status, which is considered a correlate of access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Salvy, who is a child clinical psychology researcher, and her team then compared these measures to respondents’ obesity-related behaviors such as eating habits, daily physical activity and recreational “screen time” spent on computers, mobile devices, television and video games.
Over time, the researchers found that stronger peer social functioning is associated with healthier eating habits, and this positive effect is even stronger among those adolescents with a greater sense of familism and among those living in wealthier neighborhoods.
The researchers also found that stronger peer social functioning is related to fewer hours of leisure screen time and more frequent physical activity, especially for those adolescents living in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status. That finding is especially intriguing because it suggests that strong peer relationships may help guard against the well-documented negative effects of lower socioeconomic status. For instance, adolescents with stronger peer social functioning might hypothetically feel safer and more empowered to engage in outdoor physical activity despite limited resources of poorer neighborhoods.
“What I think is especially exciting about our study is that we examined the interaction between neighborhood economic context and social factors,” said Salvy. “We know that these complex sources of influence operate on obesity risks, but they have rarely, if ever, been simultaneously considered in early adolescence.”
Salvy, who is also a fellow at both the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and at the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, hopes her expertise on the physical and social determinants of obesity and sustainable, evidence-based models for its prevention can help turn the tide both in Southern California and across the nation.
Indeed, a new study published earlier this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that America’s decades-long battle of the bulge doesn’t appear to be making much headway. By tracking 26 years of data of more than 16,000 12-to-19-year-old adolescents, the CDC researchers found that, between 1988 and 2014, the prevalence of obese adolescents has nearly doubled from 10.5 to 20.6 percent.
“Peer influence is increasingly the focus of prevention and intervention efforts targeting obesity,” said Salvy, “and our research further points to the protective power of healthy peer and family relationships for the promotion of healthy lifestyles.”
Clark visits Toronto to deliver 2016 Cardwell Lecture
Florence Clark, associate dean, chair and Mrs. T.H. Chan Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, delivered the 2016 Thelma Cardwell Lecture at the University of Toronto on June 22. Her lecture, entitled “Occupational Therapy as Life Design: Fortifying Health and Well-Being through the Course of Life,” discussed The USC Well Elderly Study Research Program and Lifestyle Redesign® research intervention model.
The lecture, founded in 1997, is named in honor of Thelma Cardwell, the founder of the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation and the first occupational therapist and first woman to be President of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. The annual lecture recognizes distinguished scholars and practitioners who have made a significant influence on the profession of occupational therapy and serves as an opportunity to join practitioners, administrators, students and academics to celebrate the vision and contributions of the occupational therapy profession.
Commencement 2016: Graduates honor longtime associate dean during ceremony
By Yasmine Pezeshkpour
Fariborz Maseeh ScD delivered the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy commencement speech on May 13.
Maseeh founded the Kids Institute for Development and Advancement (KiDA) in 2008 after his son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2. Maseeh credited much of the success of KiDA to division students and the guidance of associate dean and chair Florence Clark PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA.
The class of 2016 consisted of 10 bachelor of science, 156 master of arts, 53 doctor of occupational therapy and one doctor of philosophy graduates.
During his commencement speech, Maseeh took a moment to recognize Clark for 28 years of leadership at USC Chan. Graduates and guests joined in with a standing ovation for Clark, who is set to step down as associate dean at the end of 2016.
Trojans take 3 of top 6 AOTF student scholarships
USC Chan students won three of the top six student scholarships, as ranked by dollar amount, that are administered by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Founded in 1965, AOTF is a non-profit organization that administers more than 50 annual scholarships to students enrolled in accredited or developing occupational therapy programs in the United States.
Sarah Chang MA ‘16 received a $5000 North Coast Medical Scholarship. Joseph Christian Ungco MA ‘16 received a $5000 OccupationalTherapy.com scholarship. Leah Goodman MA ‘16 received a $2500 Kappa Delta Phi Scholarship.