The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is a WHO classification to describe function and disability. It provides a comprehensive set of domains for Body Functions, Body Structures, Activities and Participation and Environmental Factors. The ICF model recognizes that functioning limitations arise from a person’s health condition(s) in the context of the person’s social and environmental circumstances, rather than being simply a medical or social model.
It is a growing imperative that researchers, administrators and professionals work with people experiencing disability to understand and promote optimal participation. There is a need for improved evidence on outcomes and what works best for people. The ICF model recognises that participation and the removal of environmental barriers are of central importance; it provides a framework and classification for research and information capable of promoting the purposes of the UN Convention. It was designed to be relevant to a wide range of purposes, people, disciplines and sectors and is recognised as the national and international standard classification of functioning and disability.
Use of the ICF is widespread across the world for a variety of purposes, including provision of disability supports, rehabilitation, statistical description of people with a disability and their circumstances and development of policies and legislation affecting people with a disability.
ICD-11 incorporates a range of ICF functioning domains which now provide an entry point to the full ICF for ICD users. This exciting initiative opens the way for more integrated use of the ICF and ICD together to describe all aspects of health and functioning.
NCCH International Service provides a hub for accessing ICF expertise in Australia. NCCH International Services supports the ICF Australia interest group, which welcomes new participants interested in learning more about the ICF and participating in its ongoing development.