Experiences of sensory input in daily occupations for people with serious mental illness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness have impaired capacity for processing sensory inputs which affects daily occupation. Although this is known, research regarding the target groups experiences of sensory inputs in daily occupations is lacking. Aim: To investigate the experience of sensory input and strategies used in daily occupations among people with serious mental illness. Material and methods: Fourteen people with serious mental illness were interviewed regarding their experiences of sensory processing and strategies for managing sensory inputs in daily occupations. Data were analysed using content analysis. Results: Sensory processing issues affected occupational engagement and strategies to control inputs were intuitively used to cope with sensory challenges. Informants either ignored, reduced or avoided sensory inputs. Informants also enabled daily life through strategies such as creating a home that provides rest, finding a safe place, using nature and animals for relaxing and using effects of calming and alerting occupations. Discussion: Specific sensory inputs were difficult to process, which was experienced as stressful and affected occupations negatively. The results imply a need for further research exploring the management of sensory input and the use of sensory modulation approaches to enable engagement in daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number6
Early online date2020 Jun 16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Occupational Therapy

Free keywords

  • occupation
  • recovery
  • sensory modulation
  • sensory processing
  • Serious mental illness


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