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WHO ICF Explained 2003


WHO ICF Explained 2003

Towards a Common Language for Functioning, Disability and Health

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.  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 healthrelated  sectors. ICF therefore looks like a simple health classifiation, but it can be used for a number of purposes. The most important is as a planning and policy tool for decision-makers.