Validation of the comprehensive ICF core set for osteoarthritis: the perspective of physical therapists

Physiotherapy. 2011 Mar;97(1):3-16. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Mar 27.


Background and purpose: Osteoarthritis is a common chronic disease associated with functional impairments and activity limitations, as well as participation restrictions. The Comprehensive International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Core Set for Osteoarthritis is an application of the ICF and represents the typical spectrum of problems in functioning of patients with osteoarthritis.

Objective: To validate the Comprehensive ICF Core Set for Osteoarthritis from the perspective of physical therapists.

Methods: Physical therapists experienced in the treatment of patients with osteoarthritis were asked about patients' problems, resources and aspects of the environmental factors treated by physical therapists in patients with osteoarthritis in a three-round, electronic-mail survey using the Delphi technique. Responses were linked to the ICF.

Results: Seventy-two experts from 22 countries named 744 meaningful concepts that covered all ICF components. One hundred and fifty-two ICF categories were linked to these answers, 32 concepts were linked to the not-yet-developed personal factors component, and 14 issues were not covered by a single ICF category. Twelve ICF categories were not represented in the Comprehensive ICF Core Set for Osteoarthritis, although at least 75% of the participants rated them as important.

Discussion and conclusion: The content validity of the ICF was widely supported by the physical therapists. However, several issues were raised that were not covered and need to be investigated further.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delphi Technique
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results