Dimensions of personal meaning from engagement in occupations: a metasynthesis

Anne E. K. Roberts, Katrina Bannigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Occupational scientists have offered various theoretical propositions regarding the dimensions of meaning derived from engagement in occupations, and empirical studies have explored the personal meaning of engaging in a wide range of occupations.

The study aimed to distil the dimensions of personal meaning from existing research, with a view to informing theory in this area.

A qualitative metasynthesis of research studies was conducted, focusing on research reporting individuals’ accounts of the personal meaning of an occupation to them. Twenty papers met the search criteria and were reviewed, rated for quality, analyzed, and synthesized following a process of meta-aggregation.

There were four common dimensions of personal meaning: a sense of fulfilment; a sense of restoration; social, cultural, and intergenerational connection; and identity shaping.

This review provides occupational therapists with sound evidence of the link between engagement in a meaningful occupation and a sense of personal and social well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-396
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • autotelic
  • occupational engagement
  • occupational therapy
  • theory
  • well-being


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