University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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About Our Research

The USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is internationally recognized for its academic excellence, innovation in research, sustained acquisition of extramural funding and leadership in implementing successful models of interdisciplinary research. Understanding “real people” in “real lives” requires conceptual and methodological expertise that has been—and continues to be—developed through scholarship in the fields of occupational science and occupational therapy.

Methodologically, we are particularly strong in translational research, randomized controlled trial design and qualitative research approaches. The USC Chan Division is unusual in that our research programs span the continuum of modes of inquiry. We are contributing to the development of innovative solutions to methodological and analytic challenges related to studying lives in context. We remain committed to facilitating the dissemination of research findings to practitioners and the public, and to promoting approaches to scholarship that facilitate the integration of theory and practice.

Since 1994, our faculty experts have secured more than $27 million of research funding from federal agencies and authored hundreds of peer-reviewed publications.

Research Cores

At USC, we recognize the benefits of building organized critical masses of faculty with overlapping research interests related to targeted growth areas, and in response have formed research cores to promote an interdisciplinary infrastructure that fosters proximity, collaboration, readiness to respond to relevant funding announcements and internal, national and global networks. The four research cores are:

  1. Health Promotion and Prevention: This core was established in 1993 with the implementation of the original USC Well Elderly Study to further research on relationships between daily activity, health, chronic disease management, and disability prevention
  2. Sensory Integration, Engagement, and Family Life (SIEFL): The SIEFL core was founded in 2012 to grow a translational science research program targeting individuals with autism and related disorders, their families, and the clinicians who serve them
  3. Neurorehabilitation and Occupation: This core, founded in 2004, focuses on research addressing neurophysiological and structural mechanisms of recovery from nervous system injury, and the impact of intervention on participation and functional outcomes in rehabilitation populations
  4. Social, Ethical, Philosophical, Political, and Historical Foundations (SEPPH): The SEPPH core underscores the Division’s commitment to scholarship that addresses ethics, social values, and meta-theoretical issues related to occupational science. Such work produces disciplined and creative reflections that inform occupational science and articulate implications for society

Our Approach

The figure below provides an overview of our conceptual approaches to conducting occupational science research.

USC Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Research Diagram

Three strengths not explicitly highlighted in this figure are:

  1. Life span perspective — our research spans infancy through older adulthood, and some of our work is longitudinal.
  2. Study of interrelationships and cross-cutting themes — much of our research cuts across more than one core, or has deliberately addressed the intersections of conceptual areas, such as health, well-being, community re-integration, family life, and health disparities.
  3. Commitment to socially responsive research — our roots in a practice profession, and our continued development of therapeutic practices, provide us with a lens directed toward the “mattering” of scholarship which makes measurable differences for “real people.”