Research Article
Issue Date: January/February 1999
Published Online: January 01, 1999
Updated: April 30, 2020
Occupations and Well-Being: A Study of Personal Projects
Author Affiliations
  • Charles H. Christiansen, EdD, OTR, OT(C), FAOTA, is George T. Bryan Distinguished Professor and Dean, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 301 University Avenue, Galveston, Texas 77555-1028
  • Catherine Backman, MS, OT(C), is Senior Instructor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, and Doctoral Student, Health Care and Epidemiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Brian R. Little, PhD, is Professor, Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Alex Nguyen is Medical Student, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. At the time of this study, he was Research Assistant, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Article Information
Mental Health / Special Issue on Faculty Development / Terrie Nolinske, Guest Editor
Research Article   |   January 01, 1999
Occupations and Well-Being: A Study of Personal Projects
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 1999, Vol. 53, 91-100.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 1999, Vol. 53, 91-100.
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Objective. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between occupation and subjective well-being (SWB).

Method. A convenience sample of 120 adults completed a personal projects analysis, a method of rating their current goal-directed pursuits. They also completed measures of SWB (Affect Balance Scale, Life Satisfaction Index Form A) and personality traits (Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory). Characteristics of personal projects were correlated with SWB scores. Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate possible predictors of well-being from among the characteristics of personal projects, personality traits, and demographic variables.

Results. The stress associated with personal projects was significantly and inversely correlated with well-being, as was project difficulty. Perceived progress in completing projects was significantly positively correlated with well-being. The strongest predictors for well-being were the composite project factors of stress and efficacy. Two personality traits, sensing and extraversion, interacted with the project dimension of stress to emerge as significant predictors of well-being. Together, these four variables explained 42% of the variance in well-being scores.

Conclusion . These findings are consistent with assumptions that attributes of meaningful occupations are significantly related to people’s perceived well-being.