Background: Occupational adaptation is a key occupational therapy concept, yet lacks clarity and consensus, impacting on its application in practice, theory and research. Concept analysis is a rigorous methodology which enables identification of unique features, gaps in knowledge, and the need for further concept refinement.
Aim: This study aimed to determine the conceptual maturity of occupational adaptation, and identify steps needed to understand and use occupational adaptation.
Methods: Four databases were searched using the term ‘occupational adaptation’ and a principle-based concept analysis was conducted from epistemological, pragmatic, linguistic, and logical perspectives. A mapping of the concept’s evolution and analysis of the maturity of its structural features also occurred.
Results: Seven hundred and fourty-eight papers were identified, which reduced to 161 after abstract and full-text review. A diverse range of applications and two primary theoretical frames of reference were identified. The definition, attributes, preconditions, outcomes, and boundaries of the concept lacked maturity, limiting clinical utility.
Conclusions and significance: Occupational adaptation is a concept applied across many practice and research contexts, yet the concept is not fully mature. Concept refinement is required before further applied research is conducted. A shared understanding of occupational adaptation through refinement and research may consolidate its importance and future utility.