Occupational science is an academic discipline that uses systematic methods to explore daily occupations, and investigate the relationship between occupation, health, and participation in social life. “Occupation” refers to the things that people do in their everyday lives and across their lifespan; occupation is therefore not limited to paid employment. From an occupational perspective, participation and engagement in daily life is inherently infused with the possibilities that support the realization of satisfaction and health in everyday life. Occupational science draws from many fields such as anthropology, sociology, medical and healthcare sciences, and technological sciences.
Whereas occupational therapy is a profession specializing in supporting a client face myriad challenges in performing daily occupations, so that the client can return to engaging and participating in a balance of self-care, work, rest, and play, occupational science is a discipline focusing on the development of a conceptual understanding of that which is referred to as occupation, as well as the development of research and education practices where occupation is focal.
Occupational science and occupational therapy research will lead to new understanding about the things that occupy human lives on a daily basis and over the life course, as well as lead to developments in occupational therapy clinical practices in myriad settings. The exchange of knowledge production and utilization is bilateral and often parallel, however the knowledge production from a discipline supports the occupational therapist in explaining to the client and other staff members the importance and practical implications of daily occupation.
Occupational science research aims to answer questions such as:
- What characterizes human occuption?
- What is the form, function, and meaning of human occupation?
- What is the relationship between human occupation and health?
- What is the relationship between human occupation and development?