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Cieza, Alarcos; Oberhauser, Cornelia; Bickenbach, Jerome; Chatterji, Somnath; Stucki, Gerold (2014): Towards a minimal generic set of domains of functioning and health. In: BMC Public Health 14:218


Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) has argued that functioning, and, more concretely, functioning domains constitute the operationalization that best captures our intuitive notion of health. Functioning is, therefore, a major public-health goal. A great deal of data about functioning is already available. Nonetheless, it is not possible to compare and optimally utilize this information. One potential approach to address this challenge is to propose a generic and minimal set of functioning domains that captures the experience of individuals and populations with respect to functioning and health. The objective of this investigation was to identify a minimal generic set of ICF domains suitable for describing functioning in adults at both the individual and population levels. Methods: We performed a psychometric study using data from: 1) the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey 1998, 2) the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007/2008, and 3) the ICF Core Set studies. Random Forests and Group Lasso regression were applied using one self-reported general-health question as a dependent variable. The domains selected were compared to those of the World Health Survey (WHS) developed by the WHO. Results: Seven domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) are proposed as a minimal generic set of functioning and health: energy and drive functions, emotional functions, sensation of pain, carrying out daily routine, walking, moving around, and remunerative employment. The WHS domains of self-care, cognition, interpersonal activities, and vision were not included in our selection. Conclusions: The minimal generic set proposed in this study is the starting point to address one of the most important challenges in health measurement - the comparability of data across studies and countries. It also represents the first step in developing a common metric of health to link information from the general population to information about sub-populations, such as clinical and institutionalized populations.