Objective: To report on the results of the consensus process integrating evidence from preliminary studies to develop the first version of a Comprehensive ICF Core Set and a Brief ICF Core Set for rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods: A formal decision-making and consensus process integrating evidence gathered from preliminary studies was followed. Preliminary studies included a Delphi exercise, a systematic review, and an empirical data collection. After training in the ICF, and based on these preliminary studies, relevant ICF categories were identified in a formal consensus process by international experts from different backgrounds.
Results: The preliminary studies identified a set of 530 ICF categories at the second, third and fourth ICF levels with 203 categories on body functions, 76 on body structures, 188 on activities and participation, and 63 on environmental factors. Seventeen experts from 12 different countries attended the consensus conference on rheumatoid arthritis (7 physicians with at least a specialization in physical and rehabilitation medicine, 7 rheumatologists, one nurse, one occupational therapist, and one physical therapist). Altogether 96 categories (76 second-level and 20 third-, and fourth-level categories) were included in the Comprehensive ICF Core Set with 25 categories from the component body functions, 18 from body structures, 32 from activities and participation, and 21 from environmental factors. The Brief ICF Core Set included a total of 39 second-level categories, with 8 on body functions, 7 on body structures, 14 on activities and participation, and 10 on environmental factors.
Conclusion: A formal consensus process integrating evidence and expert opinion based on the ICF framework and classification led to the definition of ICF Core Sets for rheumatoid arthritis. Both the Comprehensive ICF Core Set and the Brief ICF Core Set were defined.