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Use of ICF Score Sets for Evaluating Patients with Lumbar Back Pain and Generalised Pain Syndrome


Social-medical expert reports from the German statutory pension insurance are essential for the German statutory pension regulatory authority to decide whether to grant services regarding participation as well as retirement pensions due to incapacity to work.

The objective of this investigation is to determine whether the ICF Core Sets and other international approaches, such as the EUMASS Core Sets or ICF Core Set for vocational rehabilitation cover the content of the social-medical expert reports as well as to propose an approach how the ICF can be economically used by the social medicine practitioner when writing a social-medical expert report.

A retrospective quantitative study design was used to translate a total of 294 social-medical expert reports from patients with low back pain (LBP) or chronic widespread pain (CWP) into the language of the ICF (linking) by two independent health professionals and compare the results with the ICF Core Sets for specific health conditions and other international approaches.

The content of social-medical expert reports was largely reflected by the condition specific brief ICF Core Sets, brief ICF Core Sets for vocational rehabilitation and EUMASS Core Sets. The weighted Kappa statistic for the agreement between the two health professionals who translated the expert reports were in CWP 0.69 with a bootstrapped confidence interval of 0.67–0.71 and in LBP 0.73 (0.71–0.74).

The analyses show that the content of social-medical expert reports varies enormously. A combination of a condition specific brief ICF Core Set as well as vocational rehabilitation and EUMASS ICF Core Sets as well as all ICF-categories from the expert reports that were named at least in 50% of it can largely provide a basis for preparing expert reports. Within the scope of implementation the need for a specific ICF Core Set for expert reports of the German statutory pension insurance should be further analyzed and discussed.

Cooperation partners

German statutory pension insurance Berlin, South Bavaria, Central Germany and  Rhineland-Palatinate, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany (Dr. med. Andreas Winkelmann and Dr. Thomas Ewert).


02/2008 – 12/2010


Funded by the German statutory pension insurance Berlin


Prof. Dr. Alarcos Cieza, MPH


Michaela Kirschneck