Not everything is rosy and not everyone wants to fix their garden: Integrating the dark side of occupation into curriculum for final year students

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation


Introduction: Definitions of occupation overwhelmingly expressed the positive connection to health and wellbeing. The dark side of occupation considers the exploration of those occupations which are not health-enhancing but still hold meaning for people. Currently, there is no literature which illuminates the student experience of learning about the dark side of occupation.

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the final year students’ perspectives of learning about the dark side of occupation in university curriculum.

Method: Two focus groups held over consecutive years were completed with 17 students in total. The focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts formed the dataset. Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data and uncover themes. Transcripts were analysed separately, at different time intervals, to ensure that codes inductively emerged from the data. Once all coding was completed the list of codes from both transcripts were combined. Forming categories from the focus groups was completed and refined until themes were formed.

Results: Students identified the most important and useful aspect of learning about the dark side of occupation was feeling more prepared and confident for practice in the future. Despite this, there was hesitation about how health-care providers and professionals would accept the concept in practice. Other themes included: creating brave spaces in the classroom and providing a deeper knowledge of occupation.

Conclusion: Learning about the dark side of occupation gave students an in-depth and well-rounded perspective of occupation and provided an opportunity to refine their understanding of occupation.
Period24 Jun 2021
Event titleOccupational Therapy Australia's 29th National Conference and Exhibition: Inspired insights or brighter futures
Event typeConference
Conference number29
LocationAustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • dark side of occupation
  • university curriculum
  • occupation
  • practice