Introduction to special section: advancing the field of vocational rehabilitation with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

J Occup Rehabil. 2011 Jun;21(2):121-5. doi: 10.1007/s10926-011-9309-1.


Background: Work disability is a major burden to individuals and the society. To mitigate this burden, vocational rehabilitation has been at the forefront of facilitating work participation. With the complexity of vocational rehabilitation, we need a unifying framework to capture the essential domains of functioning. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) could serve as the common reference and language. The purpose of this special section is to demonstrate the use and benefits of the ICF to stakeholders and advocates of vocational rehabilitation.

Methods: The project on the ICF Core Set for vocational rehabilitation was conducted in collaboration with national and international organizations. The project consisted of three sequential phases: (1) four development studies, (2) international consensus conference, and (3) testing and validation of the ICF Core Set.

Results: In the first article, a conceptual definition of vocational rehabilitation based on the ICF is proposed. Findings from the first phase of the project are presented in the following four articles. Our findings reflected a wide range of factors that could influence success (or failure) in vocational rehabilitation.

Conclusion: This special section has presented five articles in an effort to advance our understanding and measurement of vocational rehabilitation process and outcomes. This special section also illustrates the complexity of the contents of vocational rehabilitation and offers the vocational rehabilitation community the added value of integrating the ICF in practice and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / classification*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • World Health Organization