Posted in PhD Blog

#occhat preparation

I have a confession to make! As a busy community OT I often wondered whether theoretical models were really that relevant to my everyday practice. However, since starting my PhD journey I’ve had the good fortune of going back to the literature and exploring the rich theoretical base we have as a profession and I’ve come to the realisation that yes, theories are relevant to our everyday practice. For me, theoretical models give us the language to explain and explore what we do; it just a case of finding a theoretical model that helps you to do this.
So for Occhat I am exploring two theoretical models that help me best explain and explore what I do as an OT, and now, as an OT researcher. The first models is PEO (Person, Environment and Occupation), developed by Law and the second is PEOP (Person, Environment Occupational Performance), developed by Baum. These models are based on the science of “ecology” and therefore they consider how the environment shapes our behaviour and how our behaviour shapes the environment. Or put another way, how the environment shapes the things we need and want to do and how we adapt our environment to do the things we need and want to do.

In terms of explaining the models, I think they explain themselves and I have provided a couple of images of the models (apologies for the poor quality). The first model is the PEO and basically describes occupational performance as the transaction (complex interaction) between the person, occupation and environment. The model suggests that successful occupational performance occurs when there is a good fit or interaction between the person, environment and occupation. However, if someone is having difficulties performing an occupation, the OT can assess/analyse/consider the PEO elements to identify where the issues may lie and to then provide the appropriate intervention. The other element I like about the PEO model is it shows how the transaction between the PEO changes over time.


(Above taken from Letts, L., et al. (2003). Using environments to enable occupational performance, Slack.)

The PEOP model is similar to the PEO model but it provides a bit more detail in terms of what we should be considering when analysing the person, environment and occupation. It also illustrates the transaction that occurs during occupational performance in a slightly different way.


(Above taken from Christiansen, C., et al. (2005). Occupational therapy: Performance, participation, and well-being, Slack Thorofare, NJ.)

During the Occhat I want to explore these models in a bit more detail and will do this by posing the following questions:
1. In what ways do you think these models help you explain what you do as an OT
2. What are the challenges of analysing the transaction between the person, environment, occupation
3. What ways do the social and economic systems in which you work influence what interventions you provide
If you want to do a bit more reading around the subject I’ve included some references and a couple of Prezzi presentation I found on the PEO and PEOP model.
Journal Articles
Law, M. (1991). “The environment: a focus for occupational therapy.” Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 58(4).

Letts, L., et al. (1994). “Person-Environment Assessments in Occupational Therapy.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 48(7).
Law, M. (1996). “The Person-Environment-Occupation Model: A Transactive Approach to Occupational Performance.” Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 63(1): 9-23.

Strong, S., et al. (1999). “Application of the Person-Enviornment-Occupation Model: A practical tool.” Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 66(3).
Christiansen, C., et al. (2005). Occupational therapy: Performance, participation, and well-being, Slack Thorofare, NJ.
(This books explores occupational performance using the PEOP model)
Letts, L., et al. (2003). Using environments to enable occupational performance, Slack.
(This book provides explores the use of the enviornment as means of enabling occupational performance, it explores different PEO style models but predominately considers the PEO model)

Cutchin, M. P. (2013). Transactional perspectives on occupation, Springer.
(This book explores the transactional nature of occupation from an occupational science perspective)
Prezzi Presentations


I am an Occupational Therapist and my main passion is the using the built environment to support people's occupational performance (basically ensuring people are able to do the things they want, need and have to do in their everyday lives without being hindered by the built environment). Having completed an MSc in Accessibility and Inclusive Design I was given an opportunity to complete a PhD, which I did in July 2016. Currently I am based in the School of Health Sciences at University of Salford. My research interest is in the process used by occupational therapists to modify home environments.

2 thoughts on “#occhat preparation

  1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for your recent visit to our midlands City Council OT CPD meeting where you presented us with a whistle-stop tour of the above theories!! Feedback was excellent, turn out was almost 100% and we all enjoyed – and saw the relevance of – the PEO model for everyday practice as a social services based OT. I’d struggled to find a relevant model of practice to apply to this setting, and this really makes sense. I know the others would agree, as discussion during and after your session was lively and thoughtful….and most of us had forgotten about the usefulness of the PEO model. The difficulty is, getting it woven into documents such as Joint Working Protocols between us and the Housing department to inform how we adapt environments…not easy! As we have two very different communities of practice trying to find a way of working together.

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