Human occupation: a primary attempt to develop a comprehensive definition

Document Type : Review Articles


1 MSc of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Pediatrics Neurorehabilitation Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: Occupation includes daily tasks and purposeful activities in which we are involved because of peculiar personal meanings and values they have to each of us. These activities can be influenced by cultural backgrounds, certain interests or those aspects of life considered to be meaningful by an individual. The concept of occupation is central to occupational therapy since it has been developed on the basis of the idea that occupation can be used as a therapeutic method. In addition to the fact that occupation has a complex structure, it includes many complex concepts. Due to various definitions attributed to the term, it seems occupational therapists need a comprehensive definition of occupation that can be used to specify their role in rehabilitation teams and to define occupational therapy services.Materials and Methods: A phenomenological method was adopted in this study because its main goal was to achieve a comprehensive definition of occupation. In the first stage, all definitions were gathered and then an integrated definition was developed that encompassed all aspects. That definition was summarized by of a group of expert occupational therapists and then data gathered through Delphi method. A detailed explanation of all these steps will be presented in this article.Conclusion: According to the established definition of the term in this study, occupation has such features as purposefulness and meaningfulness. Occupation results from collaboration between developmental structure and occupational form and can be described as a physical or mental performance evident in areas such as activities of daily living, sleep and rest, education, play and leisure, social participation, or combination of these areas. Compared to other definitions, this definition is more comprehensive and objective and includes all main concepts. So, occupational therapists can use this definition for describing occupational therapy services and specifying their role in team work and determining their position relative to other members of rehabilitation team.Keywords: Occupational therapy, Occupation, Definition