Content » Vol 48, Issue 6

Special report

Towards the system-wide implementation of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health in routine practice: Lessons from a pilot study in China

Jianan Li, Birgit Prodinger, Jan D. Reinhardt, Gerold Stucki
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, No. 300 Guangzhou Road, Nanjing, 210029, China. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2067


In 2011 the Chinese leadership in rehabilitation, in collaboration with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Research Branch, embarked on an effort towards the system-wide implementation of the ICF in the healthcare system in China. We report here on the lessons learned from the pilot phase of testing the ICF Generic Set, a parsimonious set of 7 ICF categories, which have been shown to best describe functioning across the general population and people with various health conditions, for use in routine clinical practice in China. The paper discusses whether classification and measurement are compatible, what number of ICF categories should be included in data collection in routine practice, and the usefulness of a functioning profile and functioning score in clinical practice and health research planning. In addition, the paper reflects on the use of ICF qualifiers in a rating scale and the particularities of certain ICF categories contained in the ICF Generic Set when used as items in the context of Chinese rehabilitation and healthcare. Finally, the steps required to enhance the utility of system-wide implementation of the ICF in rehabilitation and healthcare services are set out.

Lay Abstract

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