University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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Effectiveness of Bowel and Bladder Techniques in Children With Spina Bifida

Ann Neville-Jan served as Co-Primary Investigator of this three-year grant from the Association of University Centers on Disability and the Centers for Disease Control. The multidisciplinary and multi-site research grant examined bowel and bladder issues of children with spina bifida. This study included two components: a longitudinal retrospective study and a cross-sectional observational study using both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the effectiveness of selected bowel and bladder interventions on both physiologic outcomes and quality of life measures. Neville-Jan led the qualitative component of the grant, investigating quality-of-life issues and the factors that facilitate or hinder the outcome of social continence in social situations.

Urinary incontinence, constipation and bowel incontinence are nearly universal in individuals with spina bifida. Left untreated, incontinence leads to significant limitations of activity and participation in life. Achievement of bowel and bladder continence enables full participation in typical vocations and avocations, and significantly affects self-esteem and quality of life. Social continence is a significant factor in estimating the quality of life for children with spina bifida and their families. Thus, the significance of this project concerned overall family functioning and quality of life to identify the factors that promote successful bladder and bowel continence programs for children who have spina bifida.