Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Vocational Rehabilitation From the Client’s Perspective Using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a Reference

  • Andrea Glässel
  • Monika E. Finger
  • Alarcos Cieza
  • Christine Treitler
  • Michaela Coenen
  • Reuben EscorpizoEmail author


Introduction A mixed-methods (qualitative-quantitative), multicenter study was conducted using a focus group design to explore the lived experiences of persons in vocational rehabilitation (VR) with regard to functioning and contextual factors using six open-ended questions related to the ICF components. The results were classified by using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a frame of reference. Methods The meaningful concepts within the transcribed data were identified and linked to ICF categories according to established linking rules. Results The seven focus groups with 26 participants yielded a total of 4,813 relevant concepts which were linked to a total of 160 different second-level ICF categories. From the client perspective, the ICF components (a) body functions, (b) activities and participation and (c) environmental factors were equally represented, while (d) body structures appeared less frequently. Out of the total number of concepts, 864 concepts (18%) were assigned to the ICF component personal factors which is not yet classified but could indicate important aspects of resource management and strategy development of patients in VR. Conclusion Therefore, VR of patients must not be limited to anatomical and pathophysiologic changes, but should also consider a more comprehensive view which includes client’s demands, strategies and resources in daily life and the context around the individual and social circumstances of their work situation.


ICF Vocational rehabilitation Qualitative study Client perspective Focus groups 



The authors would like to express their special thanks to the health professionals who were involved in the study center organization and data collection. In Bellikon, Switzerland: Dr. Hans-Peter Gmünder, Dr. Peter Erhart, Jacqueline Huber, Markus Roth, and Beatrice Jansen. In Zurich, Switzerland: Dr. Andreas Klipstein, Edith Gitermann. In Kirchseeon, Germany: Jochen Kunert, Dr. Maria Schrör, Axel Kunz and Andrea Pfingsten. We want to thank all client/patient participants for their support and contribution to the discussion. From the ICF Research Branch and Swiss Paraplegic Research team, would like to thank Dr. Teresa Brinkel for being involved in the peer review, Katharina Strasky for her help in the transcription of the recordings of the focus groups, Anne Brust for assisting the focus groups, Miriam Lückenkemper for proof reading the manuscript, and Cristina Bostan, who is supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship from the EU funded project MURINET. This project was funded by the Swiss Accident Insurance Company (SUVA).

Conflict of Interest

No conflicting interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Glässel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Monika E. Finger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Alarcos Cieza
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Christine Treitler
    • 6
  • Michaela Coenen
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Reuben Escorpizo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF)NottwilSwitzerland
  2. 2.ICF Research Branch of WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications in GermanNottwilSwitzerland
  3. 3.ICF Research Branch of WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications in GermanMunichGermany
  4. 4.Rehaklinik BellikonBellikonSwitzerland
  5. 5.Institute for Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Research Unit for Biopsychosocial HealthLudwig-Maximilians UniversitätMunichGermany
  6. 6.Berufsförderungswerk MünchenKirchseeonGermany
  7. 7.Department of Health Sciences and Health PolicyUniversity of Lucerne and SPFNottwilSwitzerland

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