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Awardees

Pai-Chaun Huang, ScD, OTR

In 2008, the AOTF Institute awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Pai-Chuan Huang of Boston University to support his dissertation entitled “Social Behavior, Gender, and Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease.” This study included a database of 104 participants with Parkinson’s disease and found that both men and women with Parkinson’s disease who showed less facial expressiveness were less likely to show rapport during an interview. Furthermore, results showed gender differences such as women reported more problems in stigmatization, but men reported more problems in activities of daily life. These results demonstrate the need to broaden our knowledge on how compromised social skills might be associated with people’s quality of life, and how gender may affect how social skills relate to quality of life.

The AOTF Dissertation Research Grant enabled Huang to acquire books for guiding data analysis, provide compensation to raters who viewed participants’ social behavior during videotaped interviews, hire a research assistant to assist him with his work, and attain the supplies required throughout the study. This support allowed Huang to test a theoretical model linking facial expressiveness and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease while also examining the moderating role of gender. Huang hopes his research will help occupational therapists tailor interventions to address the role of social behavior in quality of life. Pai-Chuan Huang, ScD, OTR is now a member of Health Quality of Life Lab at Tufts University. He plans to continue exploring themes related to social behavior, gender, and quality of life in the older population.

Dr. Huang's dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library: Huang, P.C. (2009). Social Behavior, gender, and quality of life in Parkinson's disease. Boston, MA: Boston University.

Jessica Kramer, PhD, OTR/L

In 2007, the AOTF Institute awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Jessica Kramer, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, toward the completion of her dissertation on a mixed methods approach to building validity evidence with the Child Occupational Self Assessment (COSA). This study included a database of more than 500 children from around the world and a qualitative sample of five children with cerebral palsy. These studies have provided validity evidence for the COSA and increased knowledge of how children with disabilities talk about competence for everyday activities. In addition, the studies illuminated some "best practice" issues regarding children's self report and the assessment of competence.

The AOTF Dissertation Research Grant enabled Kramer to provide on-site training to about 150 clinicians, offer modest thank-you gifts to clinicians who provided data for her study, reimburse children who participated in the qualitative study, and hire Spanish translators to support aspects of the qualitative study. Additionally, the award helped to support a related mixed-methods study which explored the clinical utility of the COSA. Thus far, Kramer has conducted four focus groups with clinicians in the UK and USA that used the COSA. Kramer hopes to complete the study during the next year and invite the more than 250 clinicians who are part of the COSA collaborator database to complete a survey regarding its clinical utility.

In August of 2008, Jessica Kramer, PhD, OTR/L became a Postdoctoral Fellow at Boston University's Health and Disability Research Institute. Through this position, Dr. Kramer has initiated a five-year research trajectory that will extend her dissertation research in various ways, including three to four manuscripts based on her dissertation, submitting her research to two to three conferences, and provide COSA training to clinicians.

Dr. Kramer's dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library of the AOTF. Kramer, JM. (2008). A mixed methods approach to building validity evidence: The Child Occupational Self Assessment. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dory Marken, PhD, OT/L, FAOTA

In 2006, AOTF awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Dory Marken, then of the University of Kentucky, to support her dissertation entitled "Beliefs of Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren in Their Provision of Nutrition." This qualitative, case-study research plan focused on the occupations of grandmothers as caregivers for their grandchildren. It explored how the unique nature of a grandmother's life course, age-related changes in her physical function, and environmental factors support or inhibit her engagement in the mother role, particularly her ability to provide meals for members of the intergenerational household. The expected long-term outcome of this research is to inform effective intervention strategies for grandmothers who encounter barriers to occupational performance.

Marken's award enabled five geographically-distant and culturally-diverse grandmothers to participate in the study through an interview and observation process that explored each individual's caregiving in the contexts of home and community. The next step for Dory Marken, PhD, OT/L, FAOTA, now associate professor at Eastern Kentucky University, is to secure funds for research that will focus on grandfathers' contributions to the daily routines of parenting and their role in shaping grandchildren's engagement in occupation. This research will add depth to her dissertation and extend her examination of late-life parenting to include grandfathers as integral members of the intergenerational family.

Dr. Marken's dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library: Marken, D. (2007) Beliefs of grandmothers raising grandchildren in their provision of nutrition. Lexington: University of Kentucky.

Eynat Shevil, PhD, OTR

In 2006, the AOTF Institute awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Eynat Shevil of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Disability Studies Program. The award supported her research on developing and pilot-testing a cognitive intervention program for persons with multiple sclerosis. The program aimed to teach participants how to self-manage cognitive symptoms by using compensatory strategies. Results showed that participants increased their knowledge of cognitive impairments, significantly increased their self-efficacy over cognitive changes, and reported using strategies in daily activities.

As a community-based study, participants were screened at their homes and the intervention was offered in a variety of community settings to maximize participant's ability to reach intervention sites. Therefore, a significant portion of the grant was allotted to the transportation needs of the participants and research team. In addition, grant funds were used to support recruitment efforts and enabled the acquisition of supplies for the intervention groups.Eynat Shevil, PhD, OTR is now a member of the faculty of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Tel Aviv University in Israel where she is continuing to study the cognitive rehabilitation program for persons with multiple sclerosis in a randomized control trial.

Dr. Shevil's dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library of the AOTF: Shevil, E (2008) Developing and pilot testing: cognitive intervention program for persons with multiple sclerosis. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kayoko Takahashi, ScD, OTR

In 2007, the AOTF Institute awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Kayoko Takahashi of Boston University to support her dissertation entitled "Behavior in Parkinson's Disease as Related to Self-efficacy and Outcome Expectancy." The study found that the nonverbal and verbal behavior of people with Parkinson's disease changes across different interview contexts. People with the disease show more or less hopeful, hopeless, apathetic, or protesting behavior, depending on whether positive or negative topics are discussed with male or female interviewers. The results suggest that clinical observational procedures for assessing motivational behavior in Parkinson's disease are possible and valid.

The grant enabled Takahashi to expand her experience both academically and clinically. The grant specifically supported the design, development, and completion of rating sessions, which were essential for her research and honed her expertise in measuring motivational behavior. Subsequently, Takahashi was able to enroll in a clinical practicum course at Tufts University, complete a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and explore the clinical meaning and implications of her dissertation findings.

Kayoko Takahashi, ScD, OTR is now a clinician and researcher specialized in neuro-rehabilitation for Parkinson's disease at Kitasato University Higashi Hospital, and a research associate in the Department of Occupational Therapy, Kitasato University, Kanagawa, Japan. She plans to become a clinical faculty member while continuing to conduct studies that apply to clinical settings. She hopes to contribute to the science of occupational therapy by developing and testing assessments and interventions designed to improve the quality of lives for people with Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Takahashi's dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library: Takahashi, K. (2008) Behavior in Parkinson's disease as related to self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. Boston, MA: Boston University.

Gwen Weinstock-Zlotnick, PhD, OTR/L, CHT

In 2009, the AOTF awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Gwen Weinstock-Zlotnick of New York University to support her dissertation entitled, “How Occupational Therapists Specializing in Hand Therapy Consider Participation During The Evaluation Process: A Look at Diagnostic Reasoning”. This exploratory study surveyed over 150 occupational therapists who specialize in hand therapy, gathering information about the assessment tools they typically use, the indications they consider when discharging patients, and the diagnostic reasoning they employ when identifying problems and setting goals for patients described in two case studies. This study, with its focus on participation and occupation in the specialized treatment of the upper extremity, is the first of its kind. Its findings demonstrated that the participants used a bottom-up approach to evaluation and treatment. Assessment tools that considered participation were seldom used and therapists infrequently identified problems relating to participation. However, when considering indications for discharge, therapists considered impairments in body structures and functions and participation restrictions with nearly equal frequency. These conclusions point to important gaps in current practice patterns and warrant further investigation.
 
The AOTF Dissertation Research Grant was instrumental to both the survey development and data collection of the study. It supported the piloting of the survey questionnaire both through incentives to participants and the numerous printings required. The grant also enabled a wide recruitment of over 600 participants at a conference geared toward the targeted population.
 
Dr. Weinstock-Zlotnick currently works as a clinician in the outpatient Hand Rehabilitation Department of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. She hopes to continue exploring themes related to participation and occupation within the specialized practice area of hand therapy.

Shirley Wells, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA

In 2007, the AOTF Institute awarded a Dissertation Research Grant to Shirley A. Wells of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Public Health, to support the completion of dissertation entitled, “Occupational Performance of Mexican Americans with End Stage Renal Disease Living on Dialysis in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.” This qualitative study found that Mexican Americans with end stage renal disease (ESRD) and their family members engage in activities that contribute positively to their perception of quality of life as well as mourn the loss of the activities that are restricted by dialysis. Over time the dialysis treatment sessions are viewed as just another task of their everyday life. The findings support the concept of occupational deprivation by demonstrating that the combination of the ESRD condition and dialysis process is a barrier to occupational performance. The conclusion suggests a family-centered approach with a focus on the lifestyle domains of reciprocal interpersonal relatedness, intrinsic gratification and societal contribution would enhance the well-being, improve survival, and increase occupational opportunities for Mexican Americans and their family members.
 
The AOTF Dissertation Research Grant was instrumental in the development and production of a documentary video of three individuals living with dialysis. It provided the incentives for 15 Mexican Americans with ESRD, 15 family members, and six healthcare providers to participant in in-depth interviews and the numerous printing requirements.
 
Shirley A. Wells, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA, is now chair and associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Texas-Pan American. She hopes to secure funds to translate the documentary video into Spanish as well as pilot an intervention program. She plans to continue her research on decreasing occupational deprivation and improving quality of life for individuals with ESRD living on dialysis and their families. Dr. Wells’ dissertation can be found in the Wilma L. West Library: Wells, S.A. (2009). Occupational Performance of Mexican Americans with End-Stage-Renal-Disease Living on Dialysis in the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, TX: University of Texas Health Science at Houston School of Public Health.