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The meaning in occupation: a meta-synthesis of eleven qualitative research articles from the Journal of Occupational Science




Rumble, Morgan, author
Eakman, Aaron, advisor
Atler, Karen, committee member
Steger, Michael, committee member

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The presence of meaning in one's life is recognized to be important for fostering health and well-being. Humans create meaning through occupation, but whether there are similarities across the components of meaning for individuals remains unanswered. Meaning is revealed through language and narrative, which necessitates a qualitative, interpretive approach to its study (Polkinghorne, 1988). Qualitative research has supplied rich data about the meaning of occupation for various cultures, populations, and activities, but to-date, there has not been a systematic review to identify if general patterns of meaning and experience exist in occupation. Following a framework synthesis approach to qualitative meta-synthesis, the current exploratory study examined positive subjective experiences associated with occupation to uncover elements of the meaning of occupation. Two higher-order themes were discovered, social meaning and selfhood, that contained multiple themes as well as four additional themes including satisfaction, pleasure/enjoyment, stimulating, and health and well-being. Complex interconnections between themes also arose and are discussed.


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Journal of Occupational Science
qualitative study


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