While the primary focus of occupational therapy is the promotion of health and well-being through functional activity, occupational science studies the nature, function and meaning of those activities. Occupational science is a separate, academic discipline connected to occupational therapy. Established in the beginning of the 1990's, its purpose is the study of the meaning of human occupation in order to understand the mutual influence of occupation and health on individuals, communities and nations.
This discipline provides our profession with its own scientific base for practice, and forms the bridge between basic and applied science. At the same time, it contributes to the knowledge base of other disciplines. Since occupation is all-encompassing field, we often do not grasp its significance. Engagement in occupation is an integral aspect of humanity. Doing (occupation) and being (humanity) have an intimate relationship.
A better understanding of the importance and meaning of occupation in human existence in different contexts supports the development of occupational therapy. Through research, occupational science facilitates an understanding of the complexity of occupation- those routine engagements in doing and being which shape our identities and our lives. Research into the meaning, purpose and complexities of the human interaction and what they do is of vital importance for all disciplines, professions and agencies responsible for socio-cultural, political and health planning.