Faculty Mentor: Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDCES, FAOTA
Research Lab: Lifestyle Redesign for Chronic Conditions (LRCC)
Year of Entry: 2017
My research interest lies in contributing to efforts to understand the demands of everyday activities and their impact on well-being, capacity for self-regulation, and cognitive performance. The overall demand of an activity can be measured by considering all its different types of demands including those mental, physical, emotional (e.g., frustration), and temporal (e.g., time pressure) in nature. These demands come with an associated physiological stress response, and as such there is a limit to the total amount of demands our bodies can experience. Whether or not activities are truly stressful or relaxing, physiologically, may depend on the demands required by them.
My current goals are to help advance measurement of activity demands through self-report, and in the future, to capture the physiological effects of the total demands placed on our bodies using smartphones and/or wearable technology. My goal is to develop tools that will provide metrics to help people determine if their everyday pattern of activities need to be adjusted (e.g., changing the number of high or low demand activities in which they engage) to improve or maintain well-being, capacity for self-regulation, and/or cognitive performance.
Master of Science (MS)
in Occupational Therapy
2015 | California State University, Dominguez Hills
Bachelor of Science (BS)
2012 | University of California, Los Angeles
Hernandez, R., Pyatak, E. A., Vigen, C. L., Jin, H., Schneider, S., Spruijt-Metz, D., & Roll, S. C. (2021). Understanding worker well-being relative to high-workload and recovery activities across a whole day: Pilot testing an ecological momentary assessment technique. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(19), 10354. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910354 Show abstract
Occupational health and safety is experiencing a paradigm shift from focusing only on health at the workplace toward a holistic approach and worker well-being framework that considers both work and non-work factors. Aligned with this shift, the purpose of this pilot study was to examine how, within a person, frequencies of high-workload and recovery activities from both work and non-work periods were associated with same day well-being measures. We analyzed data on 45 workers with type 1 diabetes from whom we collected activity data 5–6 times daily over 14 days. More frequent engagement in high-workload activities was associated with lower well-being on multiple measures including higher stress. Conversely, greater recovery activity frequency was mostly associated with higher well-being indicated by lower stress and higher positive affect. Overall, our results provide preliminary validity evidence for measures of high-workload and recovery activity exposure covering both work and non-work periods that can inform and support evaluations of worker well-being.
Keywords. workload; recovery; ecological momentary assessment; type 1 diabetes; workweek; healthy work design and well-being; future of work
Pyatak, E. A., Hernandez, R., Pham, L., Mehdiyeva, K., Schneider, S., Peters, A., Ruelas, V., Crandall, J., Lee, P.-J., Jin, H., Hoogendoorn, C. J., Crespo-Ramos, G., Mendez-Rodriguez, H., Harmel, M., Walker, M., Serafin-Dokhan, S., Gonzalez, J. S., & Spruijt-Metz, D. (2021). Function and emotion in everyday life with type 1 diabetes (FEEL-T1D): A fully remote intensive longitudinal study of blood glucose, function, and emotional well-being in adults with type 1 diabetes. JMIR Research Protocols. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.2196/30901 Show abstract
Background. While short-term blood glucose (BG) levels and variability are thought to underlie diminished function and emotional well-being in people with T1D, these relationships are poorly understood. The Function and Emotion in Everyday Life with T1D (FEEL-T1D) study focuses on investigating these short-term dynamic relationships among BG, function, and emotional well-being in adults with T1D.
Objective. To present the FEEL-T1D study design, methods, and study progress to date, including adaptations necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic to implement the study fully remotely.
Methods. The FEEL-T1D study will recruit 200 adults 18-75 years old with T1D. Data collection includes a comprehensive survey battery, along with 14 days of intensive longitudinal data using blinded continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), ecological momentary assessments (EMA), ambulatory cognitive tasks, and accelerometers. All study procedures are conducted remotely, through mailing study equipment and using videoconferencing for study visits.
Results. To date, after 12 months of recruitment, 124 participants have enrolled in the FEEL-T1D study. Over 80% have provided concurrent CGM, EMA, and accelerometer data for at least 10 of the 14 days of data collection, and nearly 90% of EMA surveys have been completed, with minimal missing data.
Conclusions. Thus far, our reconfiguration of the FEEL-T1D protocol to be implemented remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a success. The FEEL-T1D study will elucidate the dynamic relationships between blood glucose, emotional well-being, cognitive function and participation in daily activities. In doing so, it will pave the way for innovative just-in-time interventions and produce actionable insights to facilitate tailoring of diabetes treatment to optimize function and well-being among individuals with T1D.
Hernandez, R., Vidmar, A., & Pyatak, E. A. (2020). Lifestyle balance, restful and strenuous occupations, and physiological activation. Journal of Occupational Science, 27(4), 547-562. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2020.1732229 Show abstract
A balance between stressful and restful occupations is an important component of lifestyle balance (LB). We argue that excessive physiological activation from the stress of everyday engagement in occupation, and/or inadequate engagement in restful occupations, can lead to negative health outcomes through accumulation of allostatic load (AL), or physiological wear and tear on the body. This physiological activation manifests as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, resulting in elevations in serum levels of hormones such as cortisol and catecholamines. “Stress,” as the term is used colloquially, is just one possible source of physiological activation. Other possible sources include cognitive challenges and high motivation tasks. The purpose of this paper is twofold: 1) to present an explanatory model for how the LB component of a “pattern of occupations with a balance between stressful and restful engagements” can affect health and 2) to discuss metrics to measure physiological activation from stress/rest and explore how these metrics relate to existing measures of lifestyle and occupational balance. We speculate that these metrics may relate to existing measures of lifestyle and occupational balance in ways that help explain the mechanisms underlying them, with the amount of physiological activation that individuals experience on a daily basis determining their long-term health outcomes. There remains a need to develop innovative lifestyle interventions that support management of stress related physiological activation to promote health and well-being.
Keywords. Occupational science; Life balance; Occupational balance; Restful occupations; Strenuous occupations; Physiological stress; Explanatory mechanisms; Allostatic load
Hernandez, R., Gonzalez, J. S., & Pyatak, E. A. (2021, September). Investigating daily rest and leisure frequency as potential moderators of the relationship between strenuous (high demand) activity frequency and perceived whole day workload. Poster presented virtually at the Work, Stress, and Health Conference.
Hernandez, R. (2019, November). Activity focused view of stress, recovery, and allostatic load. Paper presented at the Work, Stress, and Health Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
Hernandez, R. (2019, April). Neuroendocrine model of occupational balance. Poster presented at the School of Dentistry Research Day, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
Hernandez, R. (2018, October). Allostatic load as physiological indicator of occupational imbalance. Paper presented at the Society for the Study of Occupation, Lexington, KY.
Hernandez, R., Carandang, K., Concha-Chavez, A., Díaz, J., Blanchard, J., & Pyatak, E. (2018, April). The REAL Diabetes Study: Evidence-based OT intervention strategies to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life for clients with diabetes. Poster presented at the School of Dentistry Research Day, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
Pyatak, E., Hernandez, R., Díaz, J., Carandang, K., Blanchard, J., & Vigen, C. (2018, April). Habit formation in an occupational therapy self-management intervention: The Resilient, Empowered, Active Living (REAL Diabetes) study. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, New Orleans, LA.