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BACKGROUND: Adolescence is a critical period within the life course, for developing adult occupational competencies and health behaviours. Few studies have considered how 16-17 year olds choose activities and behaviours from an occupational perspective. AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To explore how adolescents aged 16-17 years old make choices about their daily occupations to inform a theoretical model of occupational choice. MATERIALS AND METHODS: About 27 secondary school students aged 16-17 years attended one of six focus groups. Transcripts were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory, informing the iterative development of a theoretical model of occupational choice. RESULTS: Adolescent occupational choice occurred in response to experiencing needs, and was characterized by 'weighing up' and 'juggling' the following four key domains: 'Appraising values and priorities', 'Interacting with the situational context', 'Exploring skills and occupational repertoire' and 'Considering time factors'. A developing sense of responsibility and autonomy for occupational choices was described, leading to the development of the future occupational self. CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE: A theory illuminating how adolescents make choices was developed. The theory aligns with existing developmental literature and provides unique insights, from an occupational science perspective, on the conscious process by which adolescents make, develop and adapt choices about the occupations they do considering contextual and individual opportunities and constraints.

Original publication




Journal article


Scand j occup ther

Publication Date



1 - 18


Activity, late adolescence, occupation, occupational balance, occupational choice, teenagers, time use, wellbeing