Using the ICF to code and analyse women's disability narratives

Disabil Rehabil. 2008;30(12-13):978-90. doi: 10.1080/09638280701797549.


Purpose: This article describes the use of the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a conceptual framework for processing and analyzing the narratives of 50 community-dwelling women with a spinal cord injury. The women were participants in a federally-funded study of stress and coping over the life course.

Method: The paper describes the development of a coding scheme and data reduction techniques used to process qualitative data.

Results: The initial results of three phases of data analysis are then presented: (i) the construction of matrices to display data so as to permit pattern finding; (ii) the mapping of specific ICF codes to text to produce a more finely grained analysis of environment-related stressors, and (iii) a thematic analysis of text depicting the dynamics of person-environment interaction.

Conclusions: Of potential value to the further elaboration of the ICF is a fleshing out of the personal factors component of the ICF and the provision of a context-driven, process view of person-environment interaction. It is hoped that this article will stimulate continued discussion of person-level factors. The concept of coupling suggests also a need to focus research attention on the bi-directional and ever evolving linkages connecting person to environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Empirical Research
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Narration*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / classification
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • World Health Organization