Conceptualizing life balance from an empirical and occupational therapy perspective

Sammanfattning: Introduction: Although it is an important concept in occupational therapy, there is a need for further knowledge about life balance. This thesis explores the concept oflife balance - how people think about it and how it is used in occupational therapy. Aim: The overall aim of the present thesis was to conceptualize life balance from an empirical and occupational therapy perspective in order to contribute to knowledge regarding the use of the concept in occupational therapy. The specific aims were to: explore the perceptions of life balance among working people who had not recently been on long-term sick leave explore what is considered important for life balance and whether or not this differs between people use perceptions of life balance data from men and women in a healthy population to validate the Model of Lifestyle Balance clarify the content in the concept of occupational balance as used within published articles related to occupational therapy Methods: In Study I, 19 participants were interviewed about their perceptions of lifebalance. In Study II, 32 participants sorted statements about life balance according to their importance. In Study III, data from Study I were reanalysed in relation to Matuska and Christiansen’s Model of Lifestyle Balance. In Study IV a concept analysis of occupational balance in occupational therapy was conducted, encompassing 43 articles. Results: Life balance was shown to be a subjective, dynamic, health-related and multidimensional concept. Similarities and differences between what the participants consider to be important for their life balance were revealed. Occupational balance was, in the concept analysis, shown to be a subjectively defined perception of having the right amount and variation of occupations. Conclusions: The results of the thesis indicate that life balance and occupational balance are two separate concepts. While life balance includes occupational balance, it goes beyond it and also includes other aspects. Future research is requried to investigate the generality of the findings.