Research Article
Issue Date: June 1998
Published Online: June 01, 1998
Updated: April 30, 2020
Health and the Human Spirit for Occupation
Author Affiliations
  • Elizabeth J. Yerxa, EdD, LHD (Hon), ScD (Hon), OTR, FAOTA, is Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. (Mailing address: Route 1, 196 Columbine, Bishop, California 93514)
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Special Issue on Occupation-Centered Research
Research Article   |   June 01, 1998
Health and the Human Spirit for Occupation
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 1998, Vol. 52, 412-418.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 1998, Vol. 52, 412-418.
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The relationship between engagement in occupation and healthfulness is explored. Health is viewed not as the absence of organ pathology, but as possession of a repertoire of skills that enables people to achieve their vital goals in their own environments. This sort of health, reflecting adaptability and a good quality of life, is possible for all people, including those with chronic impairments.

Theoretical and research literature from an array of disciplines explores the influences of occupation on various aspects of health. These include interests, satisfaction in everyday doing, balance, the latent consequences of work, and transcendence. Support is provided for a relationship between activity level and survival. To improve the life opportunities of those they serve, occupational therapists need to become ardent students of life’s daily activities, grappling with the ambiguity and complexity of occupation, the occupational human, and the contexts in which occupation takes place.