Vocational rehabilitation evaluation and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF)

J Occup Rehabil. 2013 Mar;23(1):106-14. doi: 10.1007/s10926-012-9385-x.


Purpose: To identify the most frequent functional limitations according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) obtained by unstandardised clinical assessment of patients with chronic musculoskeletal disorders who underwent vocational rehabilitation evaluation; and to compare the obtained list with simplified versions of ICF.

Methods: The descriptions of functional limitations were retrospectively identified for 32 patients. The original vocational rehabilitation evaluation was conducted by a multi-professional team in an out-patient clinic of a university hospital. The obtained descriptions were converted to ICF codes, the most frequent being compared with the ICF Checklist of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ICF Comprehensive and Brief Core Sets suggested by the ICF Research Branch.

Results: In the study population (53 % women), 141 ICF codes were identified with a preciseness of three or more digits, the average being 21 codes/subject (median 20.0, range 9-40). When truncated to three digits, 84 ICF codes remained (average 18 codes/subject, range 9-25), 45 of which appeared in over 10 % of the study population, 24 also being found in the ICF Comprehensive, 5 in the ICF Brief Core Sets, and 33 in the WHO ICF Checklist.

Conclusions: The list of most frequent ICF codes retrospectively obtained in this study from unstandardised records showed a similarity with ICF Comprehensive and Brief Core Sets by ICF Research Branch and the ICF Checklist by WHO, but with a bias towards the identification of body structures and functions. The results support the use of ICF in vocational rehabilitation evaluation to ensure comprehensiveness of evaluation. The ICF Comprehensive Core Set seems to be the most useful for the needs of multiprofessional team when assessing functioning of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Checklist
  • Classification / methods
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*
  • World Health Organization