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Occupation and Health: a Review of Selected Literature

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Occupational therapy is based on the belief that people can influence the state of their health through what they do. However, there appears to be a shortage of evidence to support this belief. This paper describes a review of selected literature on the effects of occupation on health. The aims were to review how occupation and health are defined in the occupational therapy literature; to find synonyms for these two terms to enable a search for relevant literature; to review evidence for a relationship between what people do and their health; and to identify factors that mediate the relationship between occupation and health.

The review had five main findings: occupation and health are defined in a variety of ways by occupational therapists; there is a wealth of literature, representing a number of disciplines and a wide range of research, that explores the relationship between occupation and health; engaging in occupation carries both potential health benefits and risks to health; there is limited knowledge of the ways in which occupation influences health; and the impact of occupation on health is mediated by a complex range of factors. These findings have implications for occupational therapy research, practice and education.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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