On the application of the ICIDH and ICF in developing countries: evidence from the United Nations Disability Statistics Database (DISTAT)

Disabil Rehabil. 2003 Jun;25(11-12):644-58. doi: 10.1080/0963828031000137144.


The paper reviews the application of the ICIDH and the ICF in developing countries using data and information available in the United Nations Disability Statistics Database at the United Nations Statistics Division. The focus of the paper is limited to studies carried out in the 1990s and also censuses conducted in the 2000 round of censuses. There are substantial variations between studies in the questions used to identify the population with disabilities, and for most countries, these questions are not based on either the ICIDH or the ICF. Disability status is ascertained mainly through use of impairment screens that include a list of a few severe impairments. Recent studies show use of the ICIDH and also the ICF in the development of questions on disability. This may be attributed mainly to guidelines in the United Nations census recommendations regarding use of the ICIDH framework and terminology to develop the question(s) on disability. Work of the United Nations Statistics Division aimed at improving the international comparability of methods and use of international standards could increase use of the ICF in disability measurement. This includes regional training workshops and also the work of the newly created Washington City Group on Disability Measurement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification*
  • Censuses
  • Databases, Factual
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • United Nations
  • World Health Organization