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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2012;6:749-55. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S36165. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Linking self-determined functional problems of patients with neck pain to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.



To describe commonly reported self-determined functional problems in patients with neck pain and to evaluate their fit to the components of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).


Overall, 249 patients were included in this cross-sectional study that comprised patients with neck pain referred to the outpatient clinic at Oslo University Hospital (2007-2009). Patients were asked to report their three most significant functional problems on the Patient-Specific Functional Scale, a self-determined measure of function. The ICF was used as a tool for analysis. Meaningful concepts within the functional problems were identified, coded, and linked to second-level categories within the components of "body functions," and "activities and participation." Two researchers performed coding and linking independently. The ICF categories were presented by percentage of the total number of functional problems linked to the ICF.


Of 628 reported functional problems, 13 meaningful ICF domains were identified: four domains belonging to the body functions component (b) and nine domains belonging to activities and participation components (d). Within the 88 second-level ICF classification categories of body functions, the most frequently reported items were sleep function (b134; 27%) and mobility of joint functions (b710; 26%). Within the 538 second-level categories of activities and participation, remunerative employment was reported as the most frequent item (d850; 15%), closely followed by doing housework (d640; 14%), and recreation and leisure activities (d920; 13%). Only two meaningful concepts, described as "be active" and "to function after activities," were not assigned to a specific ICF category.


The majority of the specific functional problems presented by patients in this study showed a good fit with the ICF model. The substantial number of links to the activities and participation categories, such as mobility, domestic life, employment, and social and civic life, suggests that a comprehensive approach, as well as the involvement of a multidisciplinary team, should be present in the rehabilitation of neck pain-related disability.


ICF; PSFS; neck pain disability; self-determined functional problems

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