A conceptual definition of vocational rehabilitation based on the ICF: building a shared global model




Background The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is a conceptual framework and classification system by the World Health Organization (WHO) to understand functioning. The objective of this discussion paper is to offer a conceptual definition for vocational rehabilitation (VR) based on the ICF. Method We presented the ICF as a model for application in VR and the rationale for the integration of the ICF. We also briefly reviewed other work disability models. Results Five essential elements of foci were found towards a conceptual definition of VR: an engagement or re-engagement to work, along a work continuum, involved health conditions or events leading to work disability, patient-centered and evidence-based, and is multi-professional or multidisciplinary. Conclusions VR refers to a multi-professional approach that is provided to individuals of working age with health-related impairments, limitations, or restrictions with work functioning and whose primary aim is to optimize work participation. We propose that the ICF and VR interface be explored further using empirical and qualitative works and encouraging stakeholders’ participation.

Palabras clave


ICF, Vocational rehabilitation, Employment, Work, Concept formation, Theory


Salud laboral
Terapia ocupacional
Rehabilitación vocacional