[International classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF) 2001]

Rev Esp Salud Publica. 2002 Jul-Aug;76(4):271-9. doi: 10.1590/s1135-57272002000400002.
[Article in Spanish]


The approach which had been being employed to date for dealing with and classifying those aspects related to health and disability have been revised and updated thanks to the World Health Organization (WHO) having drafted the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, which has now been accepted 191 countries after revamping the prior model and reaching a consensus regarding a new international model for describing and measuring health and disability. As background information, it must be recalled that the Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (CIDH) previously in effect was first published by the WHO in 1980. The process of revising this classification has resulted in some changes of far-reaching importance. The change in the name has been aimed at reflecting the wish to replace the negative perspective of impairments, disabilities and handicaps for a more neutral view of structure and function, considering the positive perspectives of activities and of participation. Another new aspect has been that of including a section related to environmental factors in recognition of their importance, given that by interacting with the health condition they may give rise to a disability, or, at the opposite end of the scale, may restore functioning. The data available has enabled the WHO make estimates including that of some 500 million years of life being lost annually due to disabilities related to health problems, which totals over one half of the years lost annually due to premature deaths. The main objective of this new classification is that of providing the conceptual framework by means of unified, standardized language with a view to of the underlying challenges, setting out a valuable instrument of practical use in public health.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Health Services / classification*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • World Health Organization