Examining the Occupational Therapy Definition of Self-Care: A Scoping Review

Isabelle Laposha, Stacy Smallfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Self-care practices such as exercise and meditation are commonly identified as strategies to address stress and chronic disease. However, in occupational therapy, the term self-care has traditionally referred to basic activities of daily living (ADL), potentially limiting the profession’s ability to promote wellness among clients. This scoping review aimed to clarify how the term self-care has been used in select occupational therapy literature. We found that of 1,254 included articles, 54.9% use the term self-care ambiguously and that authors primarily apply the term to basic ADL. This understanding contrasts with the evidence from the wellness literature and the concept’s use by the general population and other health professions. Findings serve as a call to redefine the term self-care to articulate clearly the profession’s value in promoting population health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-115
Number of pages17
JournalOccupational Therapy in Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Self-care
  • scoping review
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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