Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Comparing the content of participation instruments using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health

Vanessa K Noonan12*, Jacek A Kopec23, Luc Noreau45, Joel Singer26, Anna Chan1, Louise C Mâsse7 and Marcel F Dvorak1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Spine, Department of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Vancouver, BC, Canada

4 Rehabilitation Department, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada

5 Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Québec City, QC, Canada

6 Canadian HIV Trials Network, Vancouver, BC, Canada

7 Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2009, 7:93  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-7-93

Published: 13 November 2009

Abstract

Background

The concept of participation is recognized as an important rehabilitation outcome and instruments have been developed to measure participation using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). To date, few studies have examined the content of these instruments to determine how participation has been operationalized. The purpose of this study was to compare the content of participation instruments using the ICF classification.

Methods

A systematic literature search was conducted to identify instruments that assess participation according to the ICF. Instruments were considered to assess participation and were included if the domains contain content from a minimum of three ICF chapters ranging from Chapter 3 Communication to Chapter 9 Community, social and civic life in the activities and participation component. The instrument content was examined by first identifying the meaningful concepts in each question and then linking these concepts to ICF categories. The content analysis included reporting the 1) ICF chapters (domains) covered in the activities and participation component, 2) relevance of the meaningful concepts to the activities and participation component and 3) context in which the activities and participation component categories are evaluated.

Results

Eight instruments were included: Impact on Participation and Autonomy, Keele Assessment of Participation, Participation Survey/Mobility, Participation Measure-Post Acute Care, Participation Objective Participation Subjective, Participation Scale (P-Scale), Rating of Perceived Participation and World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule II (WHODAS II). 1351 meaningful concepts were identified in the eight instruments. There are differences among the instruments regarding how participation is operationalized. All the instruments cover six to eight of the nine chapters in the activities and participation component. The P-Scale and WHODAS II have questions which do not contain any meaningful concepts related to the activities and participation component. Differences were also observed in how other ICF components (body functions, environmental factors) and health are operationalized in the instruments.

Conclusion

Linking the meaningful concepts in the participation instruments to the ICF classification provided an objective and comprehensive method for analyzing the content. The content analysis revealed differences in how the concept of participation is operationalized and these differences should be considered when selecting an instrument.