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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Current PhD Students

Lucía Floríndez, NIH T32 Research Scientist Trainee

Faculty Mentor: Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: Sensory Adapted Dental Environment Lab (SADE-2)

Year of Entry: 2013

Lucía Floríndez

Research Interests

I am the Bilingual project coordinator for the SADE Study, looking at the impact of a sensory adapted dental environment on enhancing the oral care experience of children with autism during dental cleanings.

I am a PhD candidate and USC Center for Health Equity in the Americas Fellow whose work merges the worlds of occupation, culture, and public health. My dissertation, Exploring the role of culture related to in-home oral care routines in Latino families, uses a mixed-methods approach to first identify health disparities in oral care for children in Latino families with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and then create a culturally appropriate tool (survey) to give to Latino parents. In phase one, by employing qualitative research methods like narrative interviewing and photovoice to interview 16 families (8 with typically developing children and 8 with children with ASD), I will critically examine the interplay between person and context, and identify how unique aspects of Latino culture and/or ASD diagnosis may influence oral health related occupations. In phase two, I will take the results from the qualitative data to tailor an oral health knowledge, attitudes, and behavior survey to be more culturally relevant to administer to Latino parents.

A Los Angeleno, I identify as a member of the local Latino community, and am passionate about research that explores the role of Latino culture in influencing health behaviors, as well as communicating culturally pertinent health information. Researching the in-home oral health activities of Latino children will expand the understanding of daily occupations in this at-risk population, and help to develop future targeted prevention and intervention programs, ultimately contributing to closing gaps in care and achieving health equity in the field of oral health.


Master of Arts (MA) in Communication
2011 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Relations; Spanish (double major)
2008 | University of Southern California



Clark, F. A., Blanchard, J., Sleight, A., Cogan, A., Eallonardo, L., Floríndez, L., Gleason, S., Heymann, R., Hill, V., Holden, A., Jackson, J. M., Mandel, D. R., Murphy, M., Proffitt, R., Niemiec, S. S., Vigen, C., & Zemke, R. (2015). Lifestyle redesign: The intervention tested in the USC Well Elderly Studies (2nd ed.). Bethesda, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association. Full text Show abstractHide abstract

Reorganized, expanded, and updated, this new edition of the award-winning Lifestyle Redesign gives practical guidance in this preventative occupational therapy program for independent-living older adults. The work integrates the concept of the USC's landmark Well Elderly Studies, which determined that preventive occupational therapy greatly enhances the health and quality of life of independent-living older adults.
Twelve modules, including those on longevity, stress, home safety and navigating health care, illustrate how to incorporate the program into practice. Includes a flash drive with program handouts.

Journal Articles

Stein Duker, L. I., Floríndez, L. I., Como, D. H., Tran, C. F., Henwood, B. F., Polido, J. C., & Cermak, S. A. (2019). Strategies for success: A qualitative study of caregiver and dentist approaches to improving oral care for children with autism. Pediatric Dentistry, 41(1), 4E-12E. Show abstractHide abstract

Purpose. Oral health is important to physical and psychological health. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience significant oral care challenges, but little research exists that examines efficacious interventions to improve care. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore parental and dentist reports of successful strategies implemented during dental care with children with ASD.
Methods. Focus groups were conducted with parents of children with ASD (N = two groups) and dentists treating children with ASD (N = two groups). Focus group transcripts were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.
Results. Three key themes were identified from the parent focus groups: (1) what makes a good dentist; (2) flexibility and techniques—strategies used by the dentist; and (3) preparation—strategies for parents and caregivers of children with ASD. Four themes emerged from the dentist groups: (1) parents know best; (2) practice; (3) flexibility; and (4) a network of colleagues. Areas of overlap between the parents and dental providers included the importance of preparation, necessity of flexibility and creativity, and value of collaboration.
Conclusions. Our findings provide insight into techniques perceived by parents and dental providers to facilitate successful dental encounters for children with ASD.

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.

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

Floríndez, L. I., & Floríndez, D. C. (2018). Gangs in Los Angeles: Limited occupational possibilities for Latino male adolescents. Journal of Occupational Science, 25(2), 191-199. Show abstractHide abstract

An occupational perspective is relevant in examining how the unique context of a person’s life and environment can impact the types of occupations in which he or she participates, and the dilemmas that can occur when restrictive surroundings or perceived lack of lifestyle options constrain occupational choices. This paper examines how participation in gangs by Latino adolescent males may be due to the limited options for other occupations that low socioeconomic status (SES) neighborhoods afford. By presenting narrative from the memoir of a former gang member, alongside county public health records, the engaging and health-promoting occupations as well as health-threatening occupations of gang life are explored. This scholarly discussion contributes to occupational science by evaluating the relationship between context and occupational possibilities for Latino male adolescents living in constrained environments.

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.

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.