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Model of Human Occupation

The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) explains how occupations are motivated, patterned and performed within everyday environments (Kielhofner, 2008). It has been described as the most widely-cited and utilized occupation-focused practice model in the world (Haglund, Ekbladh, Thorell, & Hallberg, 2000; Law & McColl, 1989; Lee, 2010; National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, 2004).

Moho books on a table

How did MOHO begin?

First published in 1980, the Model of Human Occupation grew out of Gary Kielhofner’s master’s thesis and practice in the mid-1970s. While Kielhofner was the primary person working on MOHO, it has always been a collaborative effort.

MOHO reflects the ideas, research and practice of many people throughout the world, and it is one of the leading theories in occupational therapy practice worldwide. You are joining a worldwide community of occupational therapists who use and contribute to the development of MOHO.

What is a model?

A model is a body of theory that explains some aspect of human behavior addressed in occupational therapy practice and  provides tools to apply that theory in practice. An essential component is the research that tests and improves the theory and tools.

What does MOHO theory address?

MOHO seeks to explain how occupation is motivated, patterned and performed. By offering explanations of such diverse phenomena, MOHO offers a broad and integrative view of human occupation.

Within MOHO, humans are conceptualized as being made up of three interrelated components:

  • volition: the motivation for occupation
  • habituation: the process by which occupation is organized into patterns or routines
  • performance capacity: the physical and mental abilities that underlie skilled occupational performance.

MOHO emphasizes that to understand human occupation and problems of occupation, we must also understand physical and social environments.

These concepts have been consistent through nearly three decades of development of this model. Theoretical refinement has achieved a clearer and more accurate explanation of how these four factors interact to influence what people do in their everyday, occupational lives, and why problems arise when chronic illness, impairments and environmental factors interrupt occupation.

For whom and where is MOHO applied in practice?

MOHO is intended for use with any person experiencing problems in their occupational life. It is designed to be applicable across the life span.

MOHO has been applied with such diverse groups as adults with chronic pain, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, persons with traumatic brain injury, older persons with dementia, persons living with AIDS, and adolescents with mental illness. It has been used with children and adults who are homeless, battle-fatigued soldiers and victims of war and social injustice.

MOHO is used in a variety of contexts, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation programs, work programs, prisons and correctional settings, and community-based organizations.


MOHO Web is an extensive online database that includes case examples, manuals, articles, documented programs, and more than 20 assessments. The website provides easy access to materials and information, an active listserv that discusses the use of MOHO in practice, and access to evidence briefs and scholarly resources for clinicians and researchers. On its e-store, users can access and print MOHO assessments, instructional manuals and other products to use with an unlimited number of clients, with no time constraints or contracts.

Taylor, R. R. (2017). Kielhofner’s Model of Human Occupation: Theory and Application (Fifth edition). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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Kielhofner’s Model of Human Occupation: Theory and Application, 5th Edition

by Renée R. Taylor (2017)

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