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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2008 Dec;44(4):387-97.

Does the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) core set for low back pain cover the patients' problems? A cross-sectional content-validity study with a Norwegian population.

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



The aim of this work was to evaluate the Norwegian form of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Core Set for low back pain patients and investigate the feasibility of the Core Set in clinical practice.


This was part of an international multicenter study with 118 participating Norwegian patients referred to Departments of Physical Medicine and rehabilitation with low back pain (LBP). The ICF Core Set for LBP was filled in by the health professionals. The patients reported their problems using the Medical Outcome Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) and the Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire (ODI).


The ICF Core Set categories capture the problems of the LBP patients, and few categories were reported to be missing. Many problems were reported within body function, and problems within work and employment were captured by the activity and participation component. The environmental factors in ICF were most frequently scored as facilitators, but the same factor could also represent a barrier in other individuals. Health professionals, family and friends were important factors within this domain. Few problems were scored as severe or complete indicating the need of collapsing the qualifier levels. Scoring of the ICF Core Set was feasibly, but rather time-consuming.


The ICF Core Set for LBP captures the problems of LBP, and adds important aspects to clinical practice in the field of LBP. However, the ICF Core Set for LBP needs further elaboration in order to improve the clinical feasibility.

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