ICF - International Classification of Functioning

General Practice

Head of Institute:
Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Kühlein

ICF – Development of a core-set for the “International classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF)” for geriatric patients in primary care

What was it about?

Ongoing scientific and technical progress in medicine concentrates on diagnoses and diseases instead of eliciting the ill-health perceived by the patient leading to “too much medicine” particularly in old and very old patients. There is clearly a need of prioritizing medical intervention. The criteria for differing between useful and less necessary medicine could be the effect size of individual measures on the preservation and recovery of functionality. In order to do so, functionality must be made describable. One useful tool is the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).  Current ICF contains a high number of codes and is therefore hardly used by doctors to describe their patients’ health status. ICF in its actual state is clearly too complex to be implemented in general practice routine.

What were we planning to do?

There is an urgent need for so called ICF core sets. These core sets are lists of selected ICF categories relevant for describing the functional health of relevant patient clusters. By using eligible core sets the impact of medical measures and treatments on geriatric patients could be investigated. Our thesis was that focusing on functional health with geriatric patients would lead to the reduction of overtreatment and overdiagnosis. Within the project we developed a primary care core set.

Sub-project partner

This sub-project was carried out by the Institute for General Practice in cooperation with the Institute for Biomedicine of Aging and the Centre for Medical Health Services Research.


  • Study Protocoll ICF: „Laying the foundation for an ICF core set for community-dwelling persons aged 75 years and older in general practice: a study protocol“. Authors: Johanna Tomandl, Stephanie Book, Susann Gotthardt, Stefan Heinmüller, Elmar Gräßel, Ellen Freiberger, Thomas Kühlein, Susann Hueber, Stefanie Hoyer. BMJ Open, 2018, zu lesen hier:  https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/8/e024274.

Publications in review process:

  • ICF Literature Review: “Laying the foundation for an ICF core set for community-dwelling elderly adults in primary care: the research perspective identified by a review of the literature”. Authors: Johanna Tomandl; Stefan Heinmüller; Melissa Selb; Elmar Graessel; Ellen Freiberger; Thomas Kühlein; Susann Hueber; Stephanie Book; Susann Gotthardt. BMJ Open
  • ICF Fragebogenstudie: “Laying the foundation for an ICF Core Set for community-dwelling elderly adults in primary care: The clinical perspective identified in a cross-sectional study”. Authors: Stephanie Book, Gudrun Ulbrecht, Johanna Tomandl, Thomas Kühlein, Susann Gotthardt, Ellen Freiberger, Elmar Gräßel. Eingereicht bei Disability and Health Journal
Contact Research

Institute of General Practice - Research

Dr. phil. Susann Hueber

Universitätsstr. 29
91054 Erlangen