Use of the ICF for clinical practice in speech-language pathology
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (WHO, 2001) states that one of its five possible applications is for clinical use. The ICF is both a conceptual framework and a classification system with a complex numerical coding system and operational definitions. Thus, the practical and useful application of the classification system for recording assessment results could prove difficult. However, an agreed upon clinical interpretation of the ICF by clinicians is essential for it to be able to communicate complex clinical assessments to other professionals, third party payers, administrators, health care policy makers, and the consumers of our services. The American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization are working on finalizing the Procedural Manual and Guide for the Standardized Application of the ICF: A Manual for Health Professionals. This Procedural Manual is being designed to provide health professionals with directions for clinical use of the ICF, including additional information about the clinical interpretation of each code, to facilitate reliable and valid clinical use of the ICF. This article addresses issues discussed in the Procedural Manual and a range of complex issues regarding the clinical use of the ICF by speech-language pathologists.