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Applying ICF in nursing practice: Classifying elements of nursing diagnoses


Heinen, M. M.; Van Achterberg, Theo; Roodbol, Gabriel; Frederiks, Carla M. A.


k. A.


International Nursing Review, 2005, Volume 52 (Number 4), Seite 304-312, Oxford: Blackwell, ISSN: 0020-8132 (Print); 1466-7657 (Online)





This study explores the relevance of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to nursing diagnoses.


As a multidisciplinary classification of human functioning, the ICF (previously known as ICIDH-2) is potentially relevant to nursing care. However, nurses have rarely used the classification during the 23 years of its existence.


In part 1 of the study, 51 nursing diagnoses from anonymous patients were deliberately selected for diversity from an existing database. The 427 diagnostic elements from these diagnoses (problem statements, aetiological factors, signs and symptoms) were classified, using the ICF, by a panel of six nurses. In part 2 of the study, the panel classified 223 elements from 30 diagnoses of patients they had actually cared for.


Nearly all diagnostic elements could be classified, most often in the sub-dimensions of body functions and activities. Agreement on appropriate ICF components was 61 percent for anonymous patients and 75 percent for familiar patients. Agreement at the more detailed 3-digit level of the classification was 42 percent for anonymous and 60 percent for familiar patients.


The ICF has relevance to nursing care. As a general classification, it was not designed by nurses or specifically for nursing care. This can explain some difficulties in using the classification that were identified in this study, as well as the rather low levels of agreement. To resolve these issues and to further improve the classification, nurses should further explore the use of the ICF and participate in future revision processes.

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International Nursing Review

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Informationsstand: 14.07.2011

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