University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDE

Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDE

Associate Professor

Room: CHP 101D
(323) 442-2615
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Beth Pyatak has primary research interests in the intersection of chronic care management, occupational engagement and health and well-being among individuals with chronic illness and/or disability. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a NIH-funded, three-year mentored career development award to pilot-test an innovative intervention targeting underserved minority young adults with poorly-controlled diabetes (NIH #K01DK099202). In 2011 she was awarded a Mentored Career Development Award through the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) to develop a lifestyle intervention aimed at improving health and quality of life outcomes among young adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (NIH/NCRR #KL2RR031991). In addition, she is collaborating with faculty at the Keck School of Medicine of USC to implement a transition program aimed at improving health and psychosocial outcomes, and increase medical follow-up, among young adults with type 1 diabetes transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare settings (Helmsley Foundation 2010PG-T1D011; PI: A. Peters). As a postdoctoral research associate at USC she worked on the Lifestyle Redesign® for Pressure Ulcer Prevention in SCI (LR-PUPS) study (NIH/NCMRR #1R01 HD056267-01; PI F. Clark).


Citation Abstract Winner | 2018
Society of Behavioral Medicine 40th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions

Elite Reviewer | 2015
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Scholar | 2014-2016
NIH Loan Repayment Program Renewal Awardee for Clinical Research

Citation Abstract Winner | 2013
Society of Behavioral Medicine 35th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions

Scholar | 2012-2014
NIH Loan Repayment Program Awardee for Clinical Research


Master of Science (MS) in Clinical, Biomedical and Translational Investigations
2015 | University of Southern California

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Science
2010 | University of Southern California

Master of Arts (MA) in Occupational Therapy
2004 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
2002 | University of Southern California



Book Chapters

Monaghan, M., Pyatak, E. A., & Raymond, J. (2019). Transition considerations for youth-onset diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2). In S. Lyons & M. Hilliard (Eds.), Transitioning from pediatric to adult care in endocrinology (pp. 117-137). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Show abstractHide abstract

Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are prevalent endocrine conditions, with over 25,000 youth newly diagnosed with diabetes each year. Late adolescence and young adulthood is a particularly risky time for youth with diabetes. In addition to the normative challenges experienced during this developmental period, most youth with diabetes also must transfer from pediatric to adult health care. This chapter reviews key developmental and psychosocial considerations that may influence diabetes management and evidence-based guidelines informing the treatment of transition-aged youth with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Specific recommendations to support transition efforts at the patient, provider, and health-care system levels are presented, and key resources to facilitate developmentally tailored, continuous care for youth with diabetes are highlighted.
Keywords. Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, Transition to adult care, Health-care delivery, Adolescents, Young adults, Psychosocial screening, Adolescent development

Journal Articles

Haywood, C., Martinez, G., Pyatak, E. A., & Carandang, K. (2019). Engaging patient stakeholders in planning, implementing, and disseminating occupational therapy research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(1), 7301090010p1-7301090010p9. Show abstractHide abstract

Patients are experts on their own lives and the ways in which an illness, injury, or disability affects their health, activity, and quality of life. With its longstanding foundations in participatory action research, patient engagement has been gaining momentum across health care and related research. This momentum is supported by investments from several key research and federal policy–related organizations, including the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Occupational therapy practitioners are uniquely positioned to champion patient collaborations. In this article, we discuss ways in which patient perspectives can be embraced in occupational therapy research, and we share insights from a research planning collaborative with adolescents and young adults that was led by occupational therapy researchers.

Carlson, M., Vigen, C. L., Rubayi, S., Blanche, E. I., Blanchard, J., Atkins, M., Bates-Jensen, B., Garber, S. L., Pyatak, E. A., Díaz, J., Floríndez, L. I., Hay, J. W., Mallinson, T., Unger, J. B., Azen, S. P., Scott, M., Cogan, A., & Clark, F. (2019). Lifestyle intervention for adults with spinal cord injury: Results of the USC-RLANRC Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 42(1), 2–19. Show abstractHide abstract

Context/Objective. Medically serious pressure injuries (MSPrIs), a common complication of spinal cord injury (SCI), have devastating consequences on health and well-being and are extremely expensive to treat. We aimed to test the efficacy of a lifestyle-based intervention designed to reduce incidence of MSPrIs in adults with SCI.
Design. A randomized controlled trial (RCT), and a separate study wing involving a nonrandomized standard care control group.
Setting. Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, a large facility serving ethnically diverse, low income residents of Los Angeles County.
Participants. Adults with SCI, with history of one or more MSPrIs over the past 5 years: N=166 for RCT component, N=66 in nonrandomized control group.
Interventions. The Pressure Ulcer Prevention Program, a 12-month lifestyle-based treatment administered by healthcare professionals, largely via in-home visits and phone contacts.
Outcome Measures. Blinded assessments of annualized MSPrI incidence rates at 12 and 24 months, based on: skin checks, quarterly phone interviews with participants, and review of medical charts and billing records. Secondary outcomes included number of surgeries and various quality-of-life measures.
Results. Annualized MSPrI rates did not differ significantly between study groups. At 12 months, rates were .56 for intervention recipients, .48 for randomized controls, and .65 for nonrandomized controls. At follow-up, rates were .44 and .39 respectively for randomized intervention and control participants.
Conclusions. Evidence for intervention efficacy was inconclusive. The intractable nature of MSPrI threat in high-risk SCI populations, and lack of statistical power, may have contributed to this inability to detect an effect.
Trial Registration. NCT01999816.

Floríndez, L. I., Carlson, M. E., Pyatak, E., Blanchard, J., Cogan, A. M., Sleight, A. G., Hill, V., Díaz, J., Blanche, E., Garber, S. L., & Clark, F. A. (2019). A qualitative analysis of pressure injury development among medically underserved adults with spinal cord injury. Disability and Rehabilitation. Advance online publication. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. Medically underserved adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) remain at high risk of incurring medically serious pressure injuries even after receiving education in prevention techniques. The purpose of this research is to identify circumstances leading to medically serious pressure injury development in medically underserved adults with SCI during a lifestyle-based pressure injury prevention program, and provide recommendations for future rehabilitation approaches and intervention design.
Methods. This study entailed a qualitative secondary case analysis of treatment notes from a randomized controlled trial. Participants were 25 community-dwelling, medically underserved adults with SCI who developed medically serious pressure injuries during the course of the intervention of the RCT.
Results and conclusions. Among the 25 participants, 40 unique medically serious pressure injuries were detected. The six themes related to medically serious pressure injury development were: (1) lack of rudimentary knowledge pertaining to wound care; (2) equipment and supply issues; (3) comorbidities; (4) non-adherence to prescribed bed rest; (5) inactivity; and (6) circumstances beyond the intervention’s reach. Together, these factors may have undermined the effectiveness of the intervention program. Modifications, such as assessing health literacy levels of patients prior to providing care, providing tailored wound care education, and focusing on equipment needs, have potential for altering future rehabilitation programs and improving health outcomes.
Keywords. Spinal cord injuries, pressure injury, lifestyle, intervention, cultural diversity

Sleight, A. G., Cogan, A. M., Hill, V. A., Pyatak, E. A., Díaz, J., Floríndez, L. I., Blanchard, J., Vigen, C., Garber, S. L., & Clark, F. A. (2019). Factors protecting against pressure injuries in medically underserved adults with spinal cord injury: A qualitative study. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, 25(1), 31-40. Show abstractHide abstract

Background. Pressure injuries negatively impact quality of life and participation for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Objective. To examine the factors that may protect against the development of medically serious pressure injuries in adults with SCI.
Methods. A qualitative analysis was conducted using treatment notes regarding 50 socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals who did not develop medically serious pressure injuries during a 12-month pressure injury prevention intervention program.
Results. Eight types of potentially protective factors were identified: meaningful activity, motivation to prevent negative health outcomes, stability/resources, equipment, communication and self-advocacy skills, personal traits, physical factors, and behaviors/activities.
Conclusions. Some protective factors (e.g., personal traits) may be inherent to certain individuals and nonmodifiable. However, future interventions for this population may benefit from a focus on acquisition of medical equipment and facilitation of sustainable, health-promoting habits and routines. Substantive policy changes may be necessary to facilitate access to adequate resources, particularly housing and equipment, for socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals with SCI. Further research is needed to understand the complex interplay of risk and protective factors for pressure injuries in adults with SCI, particularly in underserved groups.


Journal Articles

Gupta, O. T., Wiebe, D. J., Pyatak, E. A., & Beck, A. M. (2018). Improving medication adherence in the pediatric population using integrated care of companion animals. Patient Education and Counseling, 101(10), 1876–1878. Show abstractHide abstract

Medication non-adherence occurs in more than half of children with chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most strategies for improving adherence have had limited success in the pediatric population highlighting the need for novel interventions that establish healthy self-management habits for children and adolescents. In this paper we discuss innovative strategies to improve adherence by embedding a medical regimen within a pet care routine, thereby capitalizing on the benefits of a structured habit while providing opportunities for development of autonomy in children and fostering collaborative parent interactions.

Pyatak, E. A., Carandang, K., Vigen, C. L., Blanchard, J., Díaz, J., Concha-Chavez, A., Sequeira, P. A., Wood, J. R., Whittemore, R., Spruijt-Metz, D., & Peters, A. L. (2018). Occupational therapy intervention improves glycemic control and quality of life among young adults with diabetes: The Resilient, Empowered, Active Living With Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care, 41(4), 696-704. Show abstractHide abstract

Objective. To assess the efficacy of a manualized occupational therapy (OT) intervention (Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes [REAL Diabetes]) to improve glycemic control and psychosocial well-being among ethnically diverse young adults with low socioeconomic status (SES) who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Research Design and Methods. Eighty-one young adults (age 22.6 ± 3.5 years; hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c] = 10.8%/95 mmol/mol ± 1.9%/20.8 mmol/mol) were randomly assigned to the REAL Diabetes intervention group (IG) or an attention control group (CG) over 6 months. IG participants received biweekly sessions guided by a manual composed of seven content modules; CG participants received standardized educational materials and biweekly phone calls. Blinded assessors collected data at baseline and 6 months. The primary outcome was HbA1c; secondary outcomes included diabetes self-care, diabetes-related quality of life (QOL), diabetes distress, depressive symptoms, and life satisfaction. Change scores were analyzed using Wilcoxon rank sum tests.
Results. Intent-to-treat analyses showed that IG participants showed significant improvement in HbA1c (-0.57%/6.2 mmol/mol vs. +0.36%/3.9 mmol/mol, P = 0.01), diabetes-related QOL (+0.7 vs. +0.15, P = 0.04), and habit strength for checking blood glucose (+3.9 vs. +1.7, P = 0.05) as compared with CG participants. There was no statistically significant effect modification by sex, ethnicity, diabetes type, recruitment site, or SES. No study-related serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusions. The REAL Diabetes intervention improved blood glucose control and diabetes-related QOL among a typically hard-to-reach population, thus providing evidence that a structured OT intervention may be beneficial in improving both clinical and psychosocial outcomes among individuals with diabetes.

Vigen, C. L., Carandang, K., Blanchard, J., Sequeira, P. A., Wood, J. R., Spruijt-Metz, D., Whittemore, R., Peters, A. L., & Pyatak, E. A. (2018). Psychosocial and behavioral correlates of A1C and quality of life among young adults with diabetes. The Diabetes Educator, 44(6), 489–500. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to evaluate relationships between behavioral and psychosocial constructs, A1C, and diabetes-dependent quality of life (DQoL) among low-socioeconomic status, ethnically diverse young adults with diabetes.
Methods. Using baseline data of 81 participants in the Resilient, Empowered, Active Living (REAL) randomized controlled trial, behavioral, cognitive, affective, and experiential variables were correlated with A1C and DQoL while adjusting for demographic characteristics, and these relationships were examined for potential effect modification.
Results. The data indicate that depressive symptoms and satisfaction with daily activities are associated with both A1C and DQoL, while diabetes knowledge and participation in daily activities are associated with neither A1C nor DQoL. Two constructs, diabetes distress and life satisfaction, were associated with DQoL and were unrelated to A1C, while 2 constructs, self-monitoring of blood glucose and medication adherence, were associated with A1C but unrelated to DQoL. These relationships were largely unchanged by adjusting for demographic characteristics, while numerous effect modifications were found.
Conclusion. The data suggest that when tailoring interventions, depressive symptoms and satisfaction with daily activities may be particularly fruitful intervention targets, as they represent modifiable risk factors that are associated with both A1C and DQoL.

Carandang, K., & Pyatak, E. A. (2018). Analyzing occupational challenges through the lens of body and biography. Journal of Occupational Science, 25(2), 161-173. Show abstractHide abstract

Introduction. Occupational scientists are tasked with the responsibility of examining the relationship between occupational engagement and health, yet as occupations are explored in situ, these concepts only become more complex. For example, lifestyle trade-offs occur when individuals make conscious decisions between two competing sets of actions: actions taken in promotion of physical health versus actions in agreement with an identity-driven biography. In this study, these dilemmas are viewed as parts of an ongoing occupational challenge to balance physical health with subjective well-being in everyday life.
Methods. Anselm Strauss’s concepts of body state and biographical moment are conceptualized as analytic tools to study dimensions within which occupation is performed. A descriptive, single-case analysis of a young adult diagnosed with diabetes is presented as an exemplar of how Strauss’s tools may be utilized.
Results. Four themes emerged within the presented narrative: (1) by the book versus reality, (2) testing the boundaries of diabetes, (3) diabetes burnout and the struggle for perfection, and (4) the inevitable merge between body and biography.
Conclusion. Sadie’s narrative exemplifies the multiple contexts in which agentic decisions to engage in specific occupations are made. Sadie’s experiences of diabetes burnout and actions taken while “on vacation” are not uncommon within chronic illness literature and warrant further analyses that consider physical and psychological domains of health. By dismantling situational factors using analytic tools, such as Strauss’s body state and biographical moment, occupational scientists may further understand lived experiences and clarify the link between occupation and health.

Weigensberg, M. J., Vigen, C., Sequeira, P., Spruijt-Metz, D., Juarez, M., Florindez, D., Provisor, J., Peters, A., & Pyatak, E. A. (2018). Diabetes Empowerment Council: Integrative Pilot Intervention for Transitioning Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes. Global Advances in Health and Medicine. Advance online publication. Show abstractHide abstract

Background. The transition of young adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) from pediatric to adult care is challenging and frequently accompanied by worsening of diabetes-related health. To date, there are no reports which prospectively assess the effects of theory-based psycho-behavioral interventions during the transition period neither on glycemic control nor on psychosocial factors that contribute to poor glycemic control. Therefore, the overall aim of this study was to develop and pilot test an integrative group intervention based on the underlying principles of self-determination theory (SDT), in young adults with T1D.
Methods. Fifty-one young adults with T1D participated in an education and case management-based transition program, of which 9 took part in the Diabetes Empowerment Council (DEC), a 12-week holistic, multimodality facilitated group intervention consisting of “council” process based on indigenous community practices, stress-reduction guided imagery, narrative medicine modalities, simple ritual, and other integrative modalities. Feasibility, acceptability, potential mechanism of effects, and bio-behavioral outcomes were determined using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods.
Results. The intervention was highly acceptable to participants, though presented significant feasibility challenges. Participants in DEC showed significant reductions in perceived stress and depression, and increases in general well-being relative to other control participants. Reduction in perceived stress, independent of intervention group, was associated with reductions in hemoglobin A1C. A theoretical model explaining the effects of the intervention included the promotion of relatedness and autonomy support, 2 important aspects of SDT.
Conclusions. The DEC is a promising group intervention for young adults with T1D going through transition to adult care. Future investigations will be necessary to resolve feasibility issues, optimize the multimodality intervention, determine full intervention effects, and fully test the role of the underlying theoretical model of action.

Carandang, K. M., & Pyatak, E. A. (2018). Feasibility of a manualized occupation-based diabetes management intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(2), 7202345040p1–7202345040p6. Show abstractHide abstract

Objective. We investigated the feasibility and acceptability of an occupational therapy intervention targeting diabetes management for underserved young adults.
Method. Eight participants completed the intervention and a battery of assessments at baseline and after the intervention. At completion, the participants and occupational therapist were interviewed about their experiences with the study. Four categories of assessment questions were used to guide the study: process, resource, management, and scientific.
Results. Successes included recruitment; fulfillment of tasks by staff and partnering clinics; adequate space, financial support, and equipment; and meaningfulness of the intervention for participants. Challenges included scheduling participants for the intervention and follow-up focus groups and providing client centeredness and flexibility while reducing burden on the intervener.
Conclusion. This feasibility study allowed us to make necessary revisions to our study protocol before implementing a larger pilot study.


Journal Articles

Pyatak, E. A., Sequeira, P. A., Vigen, C. L., Weigensberg, M. J., Wood, J. R., Montoya, L., Ruelas, V., & Peters, A. L. (2017). Clinical and psychosocial outcomes of a structured transition program among young adults with type 1 diabetes. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(2), 212-218. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. We identified and treated young adults with type 1 diabetes who had been lost to follow-up during their transfer from pediatric to adult care, comparing their clinical, psychosocial, and health care utilization outcomes to participants receiving continuous care (CC) throughout the transition to adult care.
Methods. Individuals in their last year of pediatric care (CC group, n = 51) and individuals lost to follow-up in the transfer to adult care ("lapsed care" [LC] group, n = 24) were followed prospectively for 12 months. All participants were provided developmentally tailored diabetes education, case management, and clinical care through a structured transition program.
Results. At baseline, LC participants reported lapses in care of 11.6 months. Compared with CC participants, they had higher hemoglobin A1C (A1C; p = .005), depressive symptoms (p = .05), incidence of severe hypoglycemia (p = .005), and emergency department visits (p = .004). At 12-month follow-up, CC and LC participants did not differ on the number of diabetes care visits (p = .23), severe hypoglycemia (no events), or emergency department visits (p = .22). Both groups' A1C improved during the study period (CC: p = .03; LC: p = .02). LC participants' depressive symptoms remained elevated (p = .10), and they reported a decline in life satisfaction (p = .007). There was greater loss to follow-up in the LC group (p = .04).
Conclusions. Our study suggests that, for young adults with a history of lapses in care, a structured transition program is effective in lowering A1C, reducing severe hypoglycemia and emergency department utilization, and improving uptake of routine diabetes care. Loss to follow-up and psychosocial concerns remain significant challenges in this population.

Pyatak, E. A., Carandang, K., Vigen, C., Blanchard, J., Sequeira, P. A., Wood, J. R., Spruijt-Metz, D., Whittemore, R., & Peters, A. L. (2017). Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) study: Methodology and baseline characteristics of a randomized controlled trial evaluating an occupation-based diabetes management intervention for young adults. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 54, 8-17. Show abstractHide abstract

Overview. This paper describes the study protocol used to evaluate the Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) intervention and reports on baseline characteristics of recruited participants. REAL Diabetes is an activity-based intervention designed to address the needs of young adults diagnosed with type 1 (T1D) or type 2 diabetes (T2D) from low socioeconomic status or racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. The REAL intervention incorporates tailored delivery of seven content modules addressing various dimensions of health and well-being as they relate to diabetes, delivered by a licensed occupational therapist.
Methods. In this pilot randomized controlled trial, participants are assigned to the REAL Diabetes intervention or an attention control condition. The study's primary recruitment strategies included in-person recruitment at diabetes clinics, mass mailings to clinic patients, and social media advertising. Data collection includes baseline and 6-month assessments of primary outcomes, secondary outcomes, and hypothesized mediators of intervention effects, as well as ongoing process evaluation assessment to ensure study protocol adherence and intervention fidelity.
Results. At baseline, participants (n=81) were 51% female, 78% Latino, and on average 22.6years old with an average HbA1c of 10.8%. A majority of participants (61.7%) demonstrated clinically significant diabetes distress and 27.2% reported symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder. Compared to participants with T1D, participants with T2D had lower diabetes-related self-efficacy and problem-solving skills. Compared to participants recruited at clinics, participants recruited through other strategies had greater diabetes knowledge but weaker medication adherence.
Discussion. Participants in the REAL study demonstrate clinically significant medical and psychosocial needs.


Journal Articles

Carandang, K., Pyatak, E. A., & Vigen, C. P. (2016). Systematic review of educational interventions for rheumatoid arthritis. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(6), 7006290020p1-7006290020p12. Show abstractHide abstract

Objective. In this study, we systematically reviewed the effectiveness of educational interventions falling within the scope of occupational therapy practice for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These interventions included disease education, joint protection and energy conservation, psychosocial techniques, pain management, and a combination category.
Method. Two databases, MEDLINE and CINAHL, and select journals were searched for randomized controlled trials published between January 2002 and June 2015. Qualitative synthesis was used for between-study comparisons.
Results. Twenty-two studies, with approximately 2,600 participants, were included. The interventions were found to have strong evidence for constructs that dealt with increasing coping with pain and fatigue as well as maintaining positive affect. There was limited or no evidence supporting the effectiveness of these interventions on most other measured constructs.
Conclusion. Interventions in which a combination of educational techniques is used may complement pharmacological therapies in the care of people with RA. Future research is needed to identify specific mechanisms of change.


Journal Articles

Pyatak, E. A., Díaz, J., & Delgado, C. (2015). Engage/Trojan Neighbors: A community service partnership between an academic division and residential community. Work, 52(3), 503-508. Show abstractHide abstract

This paper describes the case of an after-school program, focused on providing enrichment opportunities for neighborhood youth, jointly administered through an academic division and residential community within a large urban research university. The program, originally conceived as an activity-based after-school program for middle school youth, expanded in scope in response to both community and student needs. The resident faculty fellow in this community served as a liaison between the academic division and office of residential education, helping maintain continuity and facilitating effective student leadership of the program. In this case, we detail the origins and evolution of the program, including strategies used to resolve challenges that arose over several years of program implementation.

Sequeira, P. A., Pyatak, E. A., Weigensberg, M. J., Vigen, C. P., Wood, J. R., Ruelas, V., Montoya, L., Cohen, M., Speer, H., Clark, S., & Peters, A. L. (2015). Let's Empower and Prepare (LEAP): Evaluation of a structured transition program for young adults with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 38(8), 1412-1419. Show abstractHide abstract

Objective. To evaluate the efficacy of a structured transition program compared with usual care in improving routine follow-up, clinical, and psychosocial outcomes among young adults with type 1 diabetes.
Research Design and Methods. Eighty-one young adults in their last year of pediatric care were recruited from three clinics. Intervention group (IG) participants (n = 51) received a structured transition program incorporating tailored diabetes education, case management, group education classes, and access to a newly developed young adult diabetes clinic and transition website. Control group (CG) participants (n = 30) received usual care. The primary outcome was the number of routine clinic visits. Secondary outcomes included glycemic control, hypoglycemia, health-care use, and psychosocial well-being. Assessments were conducted at baseline, and 6 and 12 months.
Results. Limitations in CG follow-up prevented direct comparisons of adult care visits; however, at the 12-month follow-up among IG participants discharged from pediatric care (n = 32), 78% had one or more adult visits. Among IG participants, the total number of clinic visits did not differ between those who transitioned and those who remained in pediatric care (3.0 ± 1.24 vs. 3.11 ± 0.94, P = 0.74). IG compared with CG participants had improved glycemic control (-0.40 ± 1.16% vs. 0.42 ± 1.51% [4.4 ± 12.7 mmol/mol vs. 4.6 ± 16.5 mmol/mol], P = 0.01), incidence of severe hypoglycemia (0.0% vs. 16%, P = 0.02), and global well-being (P = 0.02) at 12 months.
Conclusions. A structured transition program was successful in facilitating transition to adult care without a decrease in clinical follow-up. Compared with usual care, the transition program facilitated improvements in glycemic control, hypoglycemia, and psychosocial well-being.

Pyatak, E. A., Carandang, K., & Davis, S. (2015). Developing a manualized occupational therapy diabetes management intervention: Resilient, Empowered, Active Living With Diabetes. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 35(3), 187-194. Show abstractHide abstract

This article reports on the development of a manualized occupational therapy intervention for diabetes management. An initial theoretical framework and core content areas for a Stage 1 intervention manual were developed based on an in-depth needs assessment and review of existing literature. After evaluation by a panel of experts and completion of a feasibility study, the intervention was revised into a Stage 2 manual in preparation for a randomized study evaluating the intervention's efficacy. In developing the initial manual, we delineated core theoretical principles to allow for flexible application and tailoring of the intervention's content areas. Expert panel feedback and feasibility study results led to changes to the intervention structure and content as we developed the Stage 2 manual. Through describing this process, we illustrate the dynamic evolution of intervention manuals, which undergo revisions due to both theoretical and practical considerations at each stage of the research-to-clinical practice pipeline.

Lu, Y., Pyatak, E. A., Peters, A. L., Wood, J. R., Kipke, M., Cohen, M., & Sequeira, P. A. (2015). Patient perspectives on peer mentoring: Type 1 diabetes management in adolescents and young adults. The Diabetes Educator, 41(1), 59-68. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. The purpose of the study was to identify attitudes and topics relevant to peer mentoring as an adherence-promoting intervention for adolescents and young adults (YAs) with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Methods. Self-administered survey data were collected in 2 diabetes clinics from a convenience sample of adolescents as prospective mentees (ages 13-18) and YAs as prospective mentors (ages 19-25) with T1D. Survey topics included demographics, disease history, glycemic control, adherence, depression, barriers to disease management, social support, and interest in peer mentoring. Descriptive statistical analyses, thematic coding, and stepwise multivariate logistic regression were performed.
Results. A majority of the 54 adolescents and 46 YAs expressed interest in a peer mentoring program. Having supportive friends and living in a large household positively predicted adolescent interest in having a peer mentor. Approximately one-third of all participants experienced social barriers to diabetes management. For adolescents, barriers included inflexible schedules, unfamiliar foods, and the embarrassment of checking blood glucose in front of others. Young adults reported barriers in tracking food consumption and remembering to check blood glucose. Various diabetes management skills were in high demand by adolescents, who especially desired to learn about managing T1D on their own and in college. Participants were open to multiple communication modes, including in-person meetings, phone, text messaging, and social media.
Conclusions. Many adolescents and young adults with T1D are interested in peer mentoring as a way to facilitate learning and sharing essential diabetes management skills and experiences.

Ghaisas, S., Pyatak, E. A., Blanche, E., Blanchard, J., & Clark, F. (2015). Lifestyle changes and pressure ulcer prevention in adults with spinal cord injury in the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study Lifestyle Intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(1), 6901290020p1-6901290020p10. Show abstractHide abstract

Pressure ulcers (PrUs) are a major burden to patients with spinal cord injury (SCI), affecting their psychological, physical, and social well-being. Lifestyle choices are thought to contribute to the risk of developing PrUs. This article focuses on the interaction between lifestyle choices and the development of PrUs in community settings among participants in the University of Southern California-Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study (PUPS II), a randomized controlled trial of a lifestyle intervention for adults with SCI. We conducted a secondary cross-case analysis of treatment notes of 47 PUPS II participants and identified four patterns relating PrU development to lifestyle changes: positive PrU changes (e.g., healing PrUs) with positive lifestyle changes, negative or no PrU changes with positive lifestyle changes, positive PrU changes with minor lifestyle changes, and negative or no PrU changes with no lifestyle changes. We present case studies exemplifying each pattern.


Journal Articles

Pyatak, E. A., Sequeira, P. A., Whittemore, R., Vigen, C. P., Peters, A. L., & Weigensberg, M. J. (2014). Challenges contributing to disrupted transition from paediatric to adult diabetes care in young adults with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic Medicine, 31(12), 1615-1624. Show abstractHide abstract

Aim. To examine challenges contributing to disruptions in care during the transition from paediatric to adult care among young adults with Type 1 diabetes who are primarily in ethnic minority groups and have low socio-economic status.
Methods. Participants (n = 20) were newly enrolled patients in a transition clinic for young adults with Type 1 diabetes with a history of loss to medical follow-up. Participants completed qualitative semi-structured interviews detailing their transition experiences in addition to demographic, HbA1c and psychosocial measures. Descriptive statistics were completed for quantitative data, and narrative thematic analysis of interviews was used to identify common themes. A mixed-method analysis was used to identify the associations between stressors identified in interviews and clinical and psychosocial variables.
Results. Three categories of challenges contributing to loss to follow-up were identified: psychosocial challenges, health provider and health system challenges and developmental challenges. Participants experienced a high degree of stressful life circumstances which were associated with higher HbA1c (r = 0.60, P = 0.005), longer duration of loss to follow-up (r = 0.51, P = 0.02), greater emergency department utilization (r = 0.45, P = 0.05), and lower life satisfaction (r = -0.62, P = 0.003).
Conclusions. A confluence of challenges, including stressful life circumstances, healthcare system barriers and the developmental trajectory of young adulthood, contributes to a high risk of loss to follow-up and poor health in this population of young adults with Type 1 diabetes. An integrated approach to transition addressing medical and psychosocial needs may facilitate improved follow-up and health outcomes in clinical settings.

Pyatak, E. A., Florindez, D., Peters, A. L., & Weigensberg, M. J. (2014). “We are all gonna get diabetic these days:” The impact of a living legacy of type 2 diabetes on Hispanic young adults' diabetes care. The Diabetes Educator, 40(5), 648-658. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate how an intergenerational legacy of type 2 diabetes affected the knowledge, attitudes, and treatment strategies of Hispanic young adults with diabetes.
Methods. Eight Hispanic young adults (ages 18-30 years) participated in a series of in-home longitudinal qualitative interviews, and 11 of their family members completed single in-home interviews, regarding their diabetes management practices. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically by a team of researchers.
Results. Five themes emerged that characterized the influence of an intergenerational legacy of diabetes on young adults: food and family (how meal preparation and eating are shared within families), doing together (activity participation is contingent on others’ participation), knowledge and expectations (expectations for the future and understandings of diabetes are shaped by family members), miscarried helping (well-intentioned actions have negative consequences), and reciprocal support (children and parents support each other’s diabetes care).
Conclusions. Hispanic young adults’ knowledge, attitudes, and self-care practices related to diabetes are strongly influenced by the diabetes management practices of family members with diabetes, which often depart from current standards of diabetes care. Care providers should consider family members as a potentially significant influence, either positive or negative, on the diabetes self-care practices of this population.

Clark, F., Pyatak, E. A., Carlson, M., Blanche, E. I., Vigen, C., Hay, J., Mallinson, T., Blanchard, J., Unger, J. B., Garber, S. L., Díaz, J., Floríndez, L. I., Atkins, M., Rubayi, S., & Azen, S. P. (2014). Implementing trials of complex interventions in community settings: The USC-Rancho Los Amigos Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study (PUPS). Clinical Trials, 11(2), 218-229. Show abstractHide abstract

Background. Randomized trials of complex, non-pharmacologic interventions implemented in home and community settings, such as the University of Southern California (USC)-Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study (PUPS), present unique challenges with respect to (1) participant recruitment and retention, (2) intervention delivery and fidelity, (3) randomization and assessment, and (4) potential inadvertent treatment effects.
Purpose. We describe the methods employed to address the challenges confronted in implementing PUPS. In this randomized controlled trial, we are assessing the efficacy of a complex, preventive intervention in reducing the incidence of, and costs associated with, the development of medically serious pressure ulcers in people with spinal cord injury.
Methods. Individuals with spinal cord injury recruited from RLANRC were assigned to either a 12-month preventive intervention group or a standard care control group. The primary outcome is the incidence of serious pressure ulcers with secondary endpoints including ulcer-related surgeries, medical treatment costs, and quality of life. These outcomes are assessed at 12 and 24 months after randomization. Additionally, we are studying the mediating mechanisms that account for intervention outcomes.
Results. PUPS has been successfully implemented, including recruitment of the target sample size of 170 participants, assurance of the integrity of intervention protocol delivery with an average 90% treatment adherence rate, and enactment of the assessment plan. However, implementation has been replete with challenges. To meet recruitment goals, we instituted a five-pronged approach customized for an underserved, ethnically diverse population. In intervention delivery, we increased staff time to overcome economic and cultural barriers to retention and adherence. To ensure treatment fidelity and replicability, we monitored intervention protocol delivery in accordance with a rigorous plan. Finally, we have overcome unanticipated assessment and design concerns related to (1) determining pressure ulcer incidence/severity, (2) randomization imbalance, and (3) inadvertent potential control group contamination.
Limitations. We have addressed the most daunting challenges encountered in the recruitment, assessment, and intervention phases of PUPS. Some challenges and solutions may not apply to trials conducted in other settings.
Conclusions. Overcoming challenges has required a multifaceted approach incorporating individualization, flexibility, and persistence, as well as the ability to implement needed mid-course corrections.


Book Chapters

Clark, F. A., Jackson, J., & Pyatak, E. A. (2013). Developing an integrated occupational science research program: The USC Well Elderly and Pressure Ulcer Prevention studies. In D. Pierce (Ed.), Occupational science for occupational therapy (pp. 291-310). Thorofare, NJ: Slack. Full text

Journal Articles

Pyatak, E. A., Sequeira, P., Peters, A. L., Montoya, L., & Weigensberg, M. J. (2013). Disclosure of psychosocial stressors affecting diabetes care among uninsured young adults with Type 1 diabetes. Diabetic Medicine, 30(9), 1140-1144. Show abstractHide abstract

Aims. To determine the disclosure rates of psychosocial issues affecting routine diabetes care.
Methods. A total of 20 young adults were interviewed regarding the impact of psychosocial stressors on their diabetes care. The interviewer, endocrinologist and case manager reported the prevalence rates of psychosocial stressors. Disclosure rates were compared to determine the prevalence of psychosocial issues and the different patterns of disclosure.
Results. Participants reported a high number of psychosocial stressors, which were associated with poorer glycaemic control (r = 0.60, P = 0.005). Approximately half of all disclosed stressors (50.9%) were identified in routine care; other stressors were identified only through intensive case management and/or in-depth interviews.
Conclusions. Identifying psychosocial stressors in routine care, and providing referrals to psychological or social services, is a significant unmet need and may improve glycaemic control among certain populations with diabetes. Systematic mechanisms of capturing this information, such as by screening surveys, should be considered.

Pyatak, E. A., Florindez, D., & Weigensberg, M. J. (2013). Adherence decision making in the everyday lives of emerging adults with type 1 diabetes. Patient Preference and Adherence, 7, 709-718. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to explore motivations underlying nonadherent treatment decisions made by young adults with type 1 diabetes.
Methods. Eight emerging adults each completed a series of semi-structured interviews concerning their approaches to diabetes care, relationships with clinicians, and everyday activities and routines. A narrative thematic analysis was used to develop initial themes and refine them through continued data collection and review of the research literature.
Results. Five themes were identified as motivating nonadherence: (1) efforts to mislead health care providers, (2) adherence to alternative standards, (3) treatment fatigue and burnout, (4) social support problems, and (5) emotional and self-efficacy problems.
Conclusion. Instances of nonadherence generally involved a combination of the five identified themes. Participants reporting nonadherence also described difficulties communicating with care providers regarding their treatment. Nonjudgmental communication between providers and emerging adults may be particularly important in promoting positive health outcomes in this population.

Pyatak, E. A., Blanche, E. I., Garber, S. L., Díaz, J., Blanchard, J., Floríndez, L., & Clark, F. A. (2013). Conducting intervention research among underserved populations: Lessons learned and recommendations for researchers. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94(6), 1190-1198. Show abstractHide abstract

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the criterion standard in research design for establishing treatment efficacy. However, the rigorous and highly controlled conditions of RCTs can be difficult to attain when conducting research among individuals living with a confluence of disability, low socioeconomic status, and being a member of a racial/ethnic minority group, who may be more likely to have unstable life circumstances. Research on effective interventions for these groups is urgently needed, because evidence regarding approaches to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes is lacking. In this methodologic article, we discuss the challenges and lessons learned in implementing the Lifestyle Redesign for Pressure Ulcer Prevention in Spinal Cord Injury study among a highly disadvantaged population. These issues are discussed in terms of strategies to enhance recruitment, retention, and intervention relevance to the target population. Recommendations for researchers seeking to conduct RCTs among socioeconomically disadvantaged, ethnically diverse populations are provided.


Journal Articles

Pyatak, E. A. (2011). Participation in occupation and diabetes self-management in emerging adulthood. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(4), 462-469. Show abstractHide abstract

I present the findings of a study aimed at developing an in-depth understanding of how engagement in occupation influences young adults’ ability to effectively manage diabetes and, conversely, how their diabetes self-management strategies shape their occupational participation. The qualitative interview-based study of 8 people ages 19–25 with Type 1 diabetes revealed that study participants often experienced tension between diabetes self-management and participation in valued occupations, which required them to make calculated decisions about how to balance these competing priorities in their everyday lives. Seven themes are discussed in detail that characterized the relationship between participating in valued occupations and attending to the complex factors that dictate successful diabetes self-management. This research offers a preliminary framework for occupational therapists to assist young adults with diabetes and other chronic illnesses in reconciling these competing demands.

Pyatak, E. A. (2011). The role of occupational therapy in diabetes self-management interventions. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 31(2), 89-96. Show abstractHide abstract

Approximately 23.6 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, a disease that is a leading cause of disabling conditions including blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart disease, and stroke. Although these complications of diabetes can be delayed or prevented through intensive diabetes self-management (DSM), maintaining control of the disease can be burdensome and negatively impact quality of life. Occupational therapy has a largely untapped potential to assist individuals who struggle with managing diabetes in the context of everyday life, yet there is little discussion of DSM in the occupational therapy literature. The author conducts a systematic review of the existing occupational therapy literature on diabetes, examines the current state of DSM interventions, and discusses a potential role for occupational therapy using programs such as Lifestyle Redesign®.

Pyatak, E. A., & Muccitelli, L. (2011). Rap music as resistive occupation: Constructions of Black American identity and culture for performers and their audiences. Journal of Occupational Science, 18(1), 48-61. Show abstractHide abstract

Rap music and hip-hop culture represents a contested space within contemporary culture in the United States, often stigmatized by members of the dominant culture as an offshoot of inner city gang and drug culture. However, this dismissal fails to consider the complex historical, social, and political factors that have contributed to the development and evolution of this form of cultural expression. This article argues that rap music constitutes a resistive occupation, employed by marginalized Black American youth to communicate thoughts and concerns that are often discounted by the dominant culture, and in doing so makes a significant contribution to Black American identities and culture. To support that perspective, the authors critically analyze the conceptualization of ‘culture’ in occupational science, reinterpreting the term through a postcolonial lens that considers the influence of power, domination, and resistance in the production of culture.