What Is the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health and Why Is It Relevant to Audiology?

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The World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is widely used in disability and health sectors as a framework to describe the far-reaching effects of a range of health conditions on individuals. This biopsychosocial framework can be used to describe the experience of an individual in the components of body functions, body structures, and activities and participation, and it considers the influence of contextual factors (environmental and personal) on these components. Application of the ICF in audiology allows the use of a common language between health care professionals in both clinical and research settings. Furthermore, the ICF is promoted as a means of facilitating patient-centered care. In this article, the relevance and application of the ICF to audiology is described, along with clinical examples of its application in the assessment and management of children and adults with hearing loss. Importantly, the skills necessary for clinicians to apply the ICF effectively are discussed.

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