Occupational science

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Occupational science is an interdisciplinary field in the social and behavioral sciences dedicated to the study of humans as "occupational beings". As used here, the term "occupation" refers to the goal-directed activities that characterize daily human life as well as the characteristics and patterns of purposeful activity that occur over lifetimes as these affect health and well-being.[1][2]


Occupational science evolved as a loosely organized effort by many scholars in different disciplines to understand human time use. It was named and given additional impetus in 1989 by a team of faculty at the University of Southern California led by Elizabeth Yerxa,[3] who had been influenced by the work of graduate students under the supervision of Mary Reilly.[4]Occupational science emerged as a way to expand and support the profession of occupational therapy.[5]

Academic application[edit]

Occupational science now includes university-based academic programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. Disciplines within which occupational scientists can be found include architecture, engineering, education, marketing, psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, occupational therapy, leisure science, public health, and geography. There are several national, regional and international societies dedicated to promoting the evolution of this specialized area of human science. Academic journals containing content directly relevant to occupational science include the Journal of Occupational Science, OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, The Journal of Leisure Research, Journal of Happiness Studies, Quality of Life Research, Applied Research in Quality of Life, and various occupational therapy journals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zemke, R. & Clark, F.(1996). Occupational Science: The evolving discipline. Philadelphia, F.A. Davis.
  2. ^ Christiansen, C.H. & Townsend, E.A. (Eds) An introduction to occupation: The art and science of living.(2nd Ed).Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson
  3. ^ Yerxa, E., Clark, F., Jackson, J., Parham, D., Pierce, D., Stein, C., et al. (1989). An introduction to occupational science, A foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 6(4), 1-17.
  4. ^ Reilly, M. (1962)Occupational therapy can be one of the great ideas of 20th Century medicine. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 16, 1-9)
  5. ^ Hocking, C. & Wright-St Clair, V. (2011). Occupational science: Adding value to occupational therapy. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(1), 29-35.

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