Extending Beyond Qualitative Interviewing to Illuminate the Tacit Nature of Everyday Occupation: Occupational Mapping and Participatory Occupation Methods

OTJR (Thorofare N J). 2015 Jul;35(3):142-50. doi: 10.1177/1539449215576488.


The study of human occupation requires a variety of methods to fully elucidate its complex, multifaceted nature. Although qualitative approaches have commonly been used within occupational therapy and occupational science, we contend that such qualitative research must extend beyond the sole use of interviews. Drawing on qualitative methodological literature, we discuss the limits of interview methods and outline other methods, particularly visual methods, as productive means to enhance qualitative research. We then provide an overview of our critical ethnographic study that used narrative, visual, and observational methods to explore the occupational transitions experienced by immigrants to Canada. We describe our use of occupational mapping and participatory occupation methods and the contributions of these combined methods. We conclude that adopting a variety of methods can enable a deeper understanding of the tacit nature of everyday occupation, and is key to advancing knowledge regarding occupation and to informing occupational therapy practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Behavior Observation Techniques*
  • Canada
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Qualitative Research