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Document Typology: Report
Methodology addressed by the publication:International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
Title of document: Towards a common language for functioning, disability and health
Name of author(s): Dr T.B. Ustun WHO Coordinator, Classification, Assessment, Surveys and Terminology
Name of publisher: WHO
Language of the publication: English
Language of the review: English
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF, provides a standard language and framework for the description of health and health-related states. Like the first version published by the World Health Organization for trial purposes in 1980, ICF is a multipurpose classification intended for a wide range of uses in different sectors. It is a classification of health and health-related domains -- domains that help us to describe changes in body function and structure, what a person with a health condition can do in a standard environment (their level of capacity), as well as what they actually do in their usual environment (their level of performance). These domains are classified from body, individual and societal perspectives by means of two lists: a list of body functions and structure, and a list of domains of activity and participation. In ICF, the term functioning refers to all body functions, activities and participation, while disability is similarly an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. ICF also lists environmental factors that interact with all these components.
ICF is WHO's framework for health and disability. It is the conceptual basis for the definition, measurement and policy formulations for health and disability. It is a universal classification of disability and health for use in health and health related sectors. ICF therefore looks like a simple health classification, but it can be used for a number of purposes. The most important is as a planning and policy tool for decision-makers.
Reviewer's comments on the document:
ICF offers an international, scientific tool for the paradigm shift from the purely medical model to an integrated biopsychosocial model of human functioning and disability. It is a valuable tool in research into disability, in all its dimensions -impairments at the body and body part level, person level activity limitations,
and societal level restrictions of participation. ICF also provides the conceptual model and classification required for instruments to assess the social and built environment.

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