The Influence of Context: A Naturalistic Study of Ugandan Children's Doings in Outdoor Spaces

Janet Njelesani, Amy Sedgwick, Jane A. Davis, Helene J. Polatajko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to explore children's everyday outdoor occupations in context. A naturalistic observational approach was employed to record the observed outdoor occupations of children in Mbarara, Uganda. Thematic analysis, through pattern formation and constant comparative analysis, was used to uncover categories and themes in the data. Patterns emerged from the data revealing two overarching categories containing three themes: 1) types of occupations: play, work and nothing in particular and 2) characteristics of occupational engagement: being in peer groups, having fun and using materials in the environment. The themes reveal that children's occupations are both similar and different across minority and majority world cultures and that children's occupations are contextually situated and flexible in nature. A limitation of the study was that the observational approach made identification of children's ages subjective. Subsequent studies should explore children's experiences of occupational engagement using interviews and focus groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
JournalOccupational Therapy International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Occupational engagement
  • Paediatric occupational therapy
  • Uganda
  • influence of context
  • Ugandan children
  • childhood occupations
  • occupational therapy
  • outdoor spaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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