The Role of Occupational Science in Public health and Wellbeing Practice
Authors: Norton, E.
Start date: 3 September 2015
In this paper I will explain the link between occupational science and public health and wellbeing. The explanation will include discussion of common areas of interest such as environmental sustainability. It will also determine the importance of establishing and understanding the meanings of human occupation in public health practice and consider why interventions that ignore peoples’ meanings of occupation are unlikely to succeed.
The scope of contemporary public health is broad and it encompasses a range of issues from global environmental sustainability to individual health behaviours. Environmental sustainability issues are inextricably linked to human activities to the extent that Pratarelli (2012) has proposed that we should refer to ‘human activity issues’ rather than ‘environmental issues’. Occupational science commentators such as Whiteford and Hocking (2012) have also talked about the significance of human occupation in relation to environmental degradation. This is just one example of the link between occupational science and public health. Occupational science includes a quest to understand why people do as they do (Hocking and Wright-St Clair 2011). Next in this paper and using the public health issue of skin cancer prevention as an example, I explain why interventions that ignore peoples’ meanings of occupation are unlikely to succeed. I illustrate with findings from a grounded theory study designed to explore why young women do as they do in the sun.