what is the peop model

What is the PEOP Model? Person-Environment-Occupation Performance

The Person-Environment-Occupation Performance (PEOP) model is an important framework used in occupational therapy to guide therapists’ assessment, intervention, and evaluation of client-centered care.

It was first developed in 1985 (and last revised in 2015) by Carolyn Baum and Charles Christiansen during the time when the biomedical model was widely used in Western medicine. The biomedical model is extremely clinician-based and it only focuses on the physical processes (like injury or disease) and doesn’t consider the person’s individual factors. The PEOP model, however, focuses heavily on the client or patient.

At its core, the PEOP model considers how environmental factors, such as social supports, built and natural environments, and cultural values, affect a client’s daily activities or important occupations. What separates the PEOP model from other occupational therapy models even more is that it groups these factors into either intrinsic or extrinsic factors.

The PEOP utilizes a top-down, or holistic, approach in evaluating a client’s current situation, which demonstrates a more holistic approach to care. Read more about the Top Down vs Bottom Up OT Approaches in our companion article here.

Unlike the biomedical approach which just focuses on treating a symptom, the PEOP model examines all of the internal and external factors that may be affecting the client.

peop model my ot spot

Intrinsic Factors in the PEOP Model

Intrinsic factors include:

  • Physiological  – sleep, strength, flexibility, stress, nutrition
  • Cognitive – memory, reasoning, attention
  • Spiritual – what has meaning to the person
  • Neurobehavioral – motor & sensory input, balance, coordination
  • Psychological – personality, self-esteem, self-awareness, motivation

Extrinsic Factors in the PEOP Model

Extrinsic factors include:

  • Social support – emotional support from close relationships
  • Culture & values – customs, beliefs, traditions
  • Social & economic systems – political or economic policies affecting health or employment
  • Built environment & technology – buildings, public spaces, tools
  • Natural environment – climate, terrain

The PEOP model uses a biopsychosocial approach, which takes into account the emotional, physical, and social factors that may influence a person’s occupational performance. This is the heart of occupational therapy, where practitioners consider the entire person during their interventions instead of just their deficit areas.

Integrating the PEOP Model into Practice

When using the PEOP model in occupational therapy practice, the therapist closely examines the client’s history and establishes their short and long-term goals, which highlights the client’s areas of weakness and strength.

It is important to complete a thorough history of the client during the evaluation, as even small details can have a huge impact on the course of treatment and outcomes.

Occupational therapists practicing in any setting, from pediatrics to older adults, can incorporate the PEOP model into their practice. For the most success, OT practitioners will want to continually include their client in active and collaborative goal setting and intervention planning.

Why to use the PEOP in practice:

  • It offers a holistic approach
  • It has a strong emphasis on occupation 
  • It is client-centered
  • It is easy to use for new therapists

Why not to use the PEOP in practice:

  • There is currently only minimal research on validity or reliability
  • It focuses more on long-term outcomes, as opposed to short-term outcomes

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Occupational therapy models are the lenses in which occupational therapists look through when evaluating and treating patients or clients. The person-environment-occupation performance (PEOP) model is a top-down, holistic model which focuses on how the environment shapes a person’s occupational performance.

This can be an extremely useful model for determining what treatments to use and how to best implement them for the best long-term outcomes for your patients or clients.

Each component of the PEOP model is important to understand the impact that the environment, occupation, and performance all have on an individual.

By considering each component of the PEOP model in OT, occupational therapy practitioners can work collaboratively with patients and clients to identify barriers and facilitators to engagement in meaningful occupations, develop interventions to improve performance, and evaluate progress towards achieving goals.

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We’d love to know: Do you use the PEOP model in your OT practice? What are your thoughts on this model versus others? Do you have another favorite model that you use? Let us know in the comments!

References

Christiansen CH, Baum CM & Bass-Haugen J (2005) Occupational therapy: Performance, participation and well-being (3rd edition) Thorofare NJ: SLACK incorporated

Christiansen CH, Baum CM & Bass-Haugen J (2015) Occupational therapy: Performance, participation and well-being (4th edition) Thorofare NJ: SLACK incorporated

Duncan E & Hagedorn R (2011) Foundations for practice in occupational therapy (5th ed) Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Lifelong learning with OT. (2015, October 23). Occupational Models: PEOP (Person-Environment- Occupation-Performance). https://lifelonglearningwithot.wordpress.com/tag/peop-model/

O’Brien, Jane Clifford & Hussey, Susan M. (2012). Introduction to Occupational Therapy, Fourth Edition. Elsevier Inc.

This post was co-written by Josh Albarado, OTR/L and Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L. It was originally published on May 13, 2021 and last updated on June 15, 2024.

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4 comments

  • Anonymous December 5, 2021   Reply →

    Hello I am trying to reference your blog post, but I can’t find the date you published it. Could you please include the date when your blog was last updated? Thank you.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L December 6, 2021   Reply →

      This post was published on 05/13/2021.

  • Bella January 31, 2022   Reply →

    Thanks for this, very useful and accessible as always!

    Have you done/ heard of the Vona Du Toit Model of Creative Ability? I’d like to learn more…

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L February 1, 2022   Reply →

      I haven’t heard of that model but will definitely check it out today!

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