Areas of Expertise: Aging & AOTA Leadership
Associate Dean, Chair, and Professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (USC)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a past-president of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Dr. Clark currently is the associate dean, chair, and professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (USC).
A widely published and noted scholar, her research interests include the development and dysfunction of sensory integration in children, maternal role behavior, the acquisition of independent living skills among adolescents with disabilities, health promotion in the elderly, and spinal cord injury and occupational science.
Dr. Clark is best known for being the lead researcher of the Well Elderly Studies. The first study, conducted by USC from 1994 through 1996, made a number of notable contributions to the research on occupational therapy and its effect on the aging population. The largest outcomes research study conducted in the field to date, the results were published in October 1997—the first occupational therapy study to appear in JAMA. In the follow-up Well Elderly 2 study, occupational therapy researchers at USC found that small, healthy lifestyle changes—coupled with involvement in meaningful activities—are critical to healthy aging. The study validates the current trend in public health strategies to focus on preventing illness and disability, as opposed to treating issues once they have already begun to negatively impact health. The Well Elderly 2 trial was performed between 2004 and 2009, with the results appearing in the June 2 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Appointed as a charter member of the Academy of Research of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Dr. Clark has served as special consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General and on the board of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research. She also was the recipient of an Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship, AOTA’s highest academic honor. In 1999, AOTA also honored her with its Award of Merit. Dr. Clark received a lifetime achievement award from the Occupational Therapy Association of California in 2001.