Understanding the meaning and use of occupational engagement: Findings from a scoping review
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© The Author(s) 2019. Introduction: It is theorized that occupational therapy practice is underpinned by the construct of occupational engagement, with a focus on examining the subjective meaning of occupation. The theoretical definition of occupational engagement presents significant challenges to its use, evaluation, and measurement within evidence-based contemporary occupational therapy practice. Method: A scoping review was conducted to examine how occupational is defined within occupational therapy literature and how occupational engagement is evaluated. Results: Twenty-six journal articles were identified. Definitions were fragmented and inconsistent across studies. Key themes relating to definitions of occupational engagement included active involvement in occupation, finding value and meaning, balanced engagement, subjective experience of engagement, developing identity through occupation, and social and environmental interactions. Measures seeking to understand occupational engagement were varied across studies, with a consistent measure applied only in the area of mental health. Conclusion: The lack of consistency in definitions and measurement of occupational engagement presents significant issues for occupational therapy practice and evaluation. There is a need for a common definition of occupational engagement to be applied in the literature. Outcome measures seeking to understand occupational engagement are also required; however, these rely on a clearly defined construct.
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