International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF)

International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF, is a classification of health and health-related domains. 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. Since an individual’s functioning and disability occurs in a context, the ICF also includes a list of environmental factors.

The ICF is WHO's framework for measuring health and disability at both individual and population levels. The ICF was officially endorsed by all 191 WHO Member States in the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly on 22 May 2001(resolution WHA 54.21). Unlike its predecessor, which was endorsed for field trail purposes only, the ICF was endorsed for use in Member States as the international standard to describe and measure health and disability.

The ICF puts the notions of ‘health’ and ‘disability’ in a new light. It acknowledges that every human being can experience a decrement in health and thereby experience some degree of disability. Disability is not something that only happens to a minority of humanity. The ICF thus ‘mainstreams’ the experience of disability and recognises it as a universal human experience. By shifting the focus from cause to impact it places all health conditions on an equal footing allowing them to be compared using a common metric – the ruler of health and disability. Furthermore ICF takes into account the social aspects of disability and does not see disability only as a 'medical' or 'biological' dysfunction. By including Contextual Factors, in which environmental factors are listed ICF allows to records the impact of the environment on the person's functioning.

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For ICF online click here

For Practical Manual for using ICF Click here

More Information -

  • Application areas: Overview on where and how ICF is used

  • Application and Training Tools: Access application instruments and training material

  • ICF and ICF-CY ONLINE - Multiple Languages

ICF Application Areas

Implementation of the ICF started in 2001 with the unanimous endorsement of the classification by the 54th World Health Assembly as the framework for describing and measuring health and disability. Since then, ICF has been applied in a variety of settings at national and international level.

International and national health and disability reporting

ICF based health and disability surveys have been conducted at national and international level. In WHO the ICF framework has been used in the Multi-Country Survey Study in 2000/2001 and the World Health Survey Program in 2002/2003 to measure health status of the general population in 71 countries. From this data WHO and selected Members States are currently generating population norms for selected ICF domains and disability prevalence rates. At regional level UNSD, UNESCWA and UNESCAP in collaboration with WHO implemented a series of workshops for African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries to improve disability statistics using the ICF framework. At national level ICF based data sets and questionnaires are currently used in a number of countries including Australia, Irland, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Malawi.
Several countries started the process of streamlining ICF in their health & social information standards and legislation. Development and piloting of ICF based indicators and reporting systems for use in rehabilitation, home-care, age-care, disability evaluation are ongoing in Australia, Canada, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico.

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ICF Application and Training Tools

To facilitate the application of ICF in various settings the following application and training instruments and materials are available:

Application Instruments

ICF Checklist: The user–friendly display of the most relevant ICF categories for clinical purposes. The checklist allows the user to identify and qualify the individuals functioning profile in a simple and time efficient manner.
For Checklist :

WHODAS 2.0: The World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule - WHODAS 2.0 - is a practical instrument designed to measure general levels of health and disability. The instrument is based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
For Details : WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0)
WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 WHODAS 2.0
The new WHODAS 2.0

The new WHODAS 2.0 supersedes WHODAS II and shows the following advantages:

  • Generic assessment instrument for health and disability

  • Used across all diseases, including mental, neurological and addictive disorders

  • Short, simple and easy to administer (5 to 20 minutes)

  • Applicable in both clinical and general population settings

  • Produces standardized disability levels and profiles

  • Applicable across cultures, in all adult populations

  • Direct conceptual link to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

For details :

Links to training materials: ICFtrainingBeginner'sGuide, pdf