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Development of a Minimal Generic Set of Functioning and Health - ICF Parsimonious Set


The aim of the project was to identify a minimal set of ICF categories that are relevant for both persons with and without health conditions, and thus are also relevant for the general population.

Cooperation partner

The Minimal Generic Set of Functioning and Health (Generic ICF Core Set) was developed in cooperation with WHO Family of International Classifications (WHO-FIC) Functioning and Disability Reference Group.


The Minimal Generic Set was developed from a psychometric study. For this purpose the following three datasets were analysed: 1) clinical data on patients with various health conditions collected within different ICF Core Sets studies; 2) general population data from the German National Health Survey from 1998 and 3) general population data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007.

The Generic Set is composed of seven 2nd level categories from the ICF components Body Functions and Activities and Participation which have been statistically determined to be the generally applicable across health conditions and contexts. As such, the Generic Set can be used for a very brief description of functioning. Because of its general applicability, it is strongly recommended that the ICF categories from the Generic Set should be included every time an ICF Core Set, Brief or Comprehensive is used. This will ensure the data collected in a clinical setting for assessment purposes has the widest applicability for other purposes, including health statistics, health services planning and research. To see the publication on the development of the Generic Set, please visit the NCBI’s website .

The Generic Set is of importance for health statistics and public health. It can be used to compare health across health conditions, settings, contexts, countries and population groups using only a small number of ICF categories that are key indicators of health and functioning. The Generic Set is also valuable for clinical use as it depicts the very core of functioning, and provides at a glance, initial insight into a patient's level of functioning that is clear and understandable to any health or health-related professional involved. Most importantly, the Generic Set ensures comparability across health conditions.



Prof. Dr. Alarcos Cieza, MPH

Dr. Cornelia Oberhauser
Research Unit for Biopsychosocial Health


Dr. Cornelia Oberhauser