Person Environment Occupational Performance Model: Definition & Elements

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

The Person Environmental Occupational Performance (PEOP) Model can be used as a guide to properly treat a patient in occupational therapy. Learn all about the PEOP Model, including the four main elements that make up this model.

Who Is the Better OT?

Which of the following occupational therapists (OT) would be more likely to provide effective therapy for their patients?

  • Greg is an OT who treats all his patients the same, no matter the patient's personal background, personality, or demographics.
  • Jessica is an OT who will adapt her therapy interventions based on a patient's person background, personality, and demographics.

If you said that Jessica is more likely to provide effective therapy for her patients, you are correct! Adapting therapy based on the background of a patient is a large component of the Person Environmental Occupational Performance Model.

Person Environmental Occupational Performance Model

The Person Environmental Occupational Performance (PEOP) Model serves as a guide for an OT to be able to better understand their patients and, therefore, provide better therapy. The PEOP Model is a top-down, client-centered model, which means it focuses first on the client, paying attention to the client's intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics. A person's intrinsic characteristics are those things they are born with and typically cannot change, like gender, race, and age. A person's extrinsic characteristics have to do with their environment and often can be changed, like their culture and economic status.

Occupational therapists should pay attention to the intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of their patients.

The PEOP Model states that patients should not all be treated the same. For example, occupational therapy for a poor, elderly woman who lives alone should be quite different than therapy for a middle class, energetic teenager who lives with both parents. This elderly women might not be physically able to perform certain types of exercises that a younger, more physically capable person could perform. She may also have a difficult time hearing her therapist, and she might have difficulties with transportation to and from her therapy sessions. All of these factors should be considered by an OT who is working with this elderly woman.

Four Main Elements

There are four main elements of the PEOP Model: person, environment, occupation, and performance (you probably could have guess these based on the name of the model). Each of these four elements of a patient should be considered when an OT is creating a plan of care. The following sections will discuss them in more depth.


Person refers to the unique set of backgrounds, life experiences, thoughts, attitudes, intelligence, and interests each patient will have. These personal factors of each patient should be considered by an OT when treating a patient. For example, a patient who is not very motivated to get better may need their OT to help with motivation. However, a patient who is already quite motivated may not require any additional motivation from their OT.


The environment can refer to either the environment that a patient has lived in throughout their life (economic status, culture) and/or the environment where the occupational therapy takes place. For example, some cultures forbid physical contact between men and women who are not married. This aspect of a patient's cultural environment could drastically impact the plan of care for a female patient who is working with a male OT. In regards to the environment of the therapy, a loud therapy room may hinder an OT's ability to provide therapy to their patients. It is usually best to provide therapy in an environment that is relatively quiet and calm.


Occupation refers to the activities that a person engages in throughout their lives, which includes activities of daily living (brushing their teeth, bathing), activities in their career/profession, and activities they do for fun, leisure, and/or self-care. Knowing what activities the patient performs regularly can help an OT better focus their plan of care. For example, if a patient's job requires them to work with their hands, an OT should make sure the therapy for this patient is focused on helping them regain the functioning of their hands.

Each OT patient will have different demographics, cultures, and experiences and these differences will have an impact on their therapy.

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