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Journal Article  March 1, 2006

ICF and ICD Codes Provide a Standard Language of Disability in Young Children

SRI Authors Kathleen M. Hebbeler



Simeonsson, R. J., Scarborough, A. A., & Hebbeler, K. M. (2006). ICF and ICD codes provide a standard language of disability in young children. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 59(4), 365-373.


Background and Objectives

The aim of this study was to examine the utility of a hierarchical algorithm incorporating codes from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health—ICF (WHO, 2001) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases-ICD (WHO, 1994) to classify reasons for eligibility of young children in early intervention.


The database for this study was a nationally representative enrollment sample of more than 5500 children in a longitudinal study of early intervention. Reasons for eligibility were reviewed and matched to the closest ICF or ICD codes under one of four major categories (Body Functions/Structures, Activities/Participation, Health Conditions, and Environmental Factors).


The average number of reasons for eligibility provided per child was 1.5, resulting in a population summary exceeding 100%. A total of 305 ICF and ICD codes were used with most (77%) of the children having codes in the category of Body Function/Structures. Forty-one percent of the sample had codes of Health Conditions, whereas the proportions with codes in the Activities/Partipication and Environmental Categories were 10 and 5%, respectively.


The results demonstrate that ICD and ICF can be jointly used as a common language to document disability characteristics of children in early intervention.

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