, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 692–703 | Cite as

Application of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to People with Dysphagia Following Non-surgical Head and Neck Cancer Management

  • Rebecca L. NundEmail author
  • Nerina A. Scarinci
  • Bena Cartmill
  • Elizabeth C. Ward
  • Pim Kuipers
  • Sandro V. Porceddu
Original Article


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) is an internationally recognized framework which allows its user to describe the consequences of a health condition on an individual in the context of their environment. With growing recognition that dysphagia can have broad ranging physical and psychosocial impacts, the aim of this paper was to identify the ICF domains and categories that describe the full functional impact of dysphagia following non-surgical head and neck cancer (HNC) management, from the perspective of the person with dysphagia. A secondary analysis was conducted on previously published qualitative study data which explored the lived experiences of dysphagia of 24 individuals with self-reported swallowing difficulties following HNC management. Categories and sub-categories identified by the qualitative analysis were subsequently mapped to the ICF using the established linking rules to develop a set of ICF codes relevant to the impact of dysphagia following HNC management. The 69 categories and sub-categories that had emerged from the qualitative analysis were successfully linked to 52 ICF codes. The distribution of these codes across the ICF framework revealed that the components of Body Functions, Activities and Participation, and Environmental Factors were almost equally represented. The findings confirm that the ICF is a valuable framework for representing the complexity and multifaceted impact of dysphagia following HNC. This list of ICF codes, which reflect the diverse impact of dysphagia associated with HNC on the individual, can be used to guide more holistic assessment and management for this population.


Deglutition Deglutition disorders ICF Head and neck cancer Radiotherapy 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca L. Nund
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nerina A. Scarinci
    • 1
  • Bena Cartmill
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elizabeth C. Ward
    • 2
    • 4
  • Pim Kuipers
    • 2
    • 5
  • Sandro V. Porceddu
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Division of Speech Pathology, School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Metro South Hospital and Health Services DistrictQueensland HealthBurandaAustralia
  3. 3.Speech Pathology DepartmentPrincess Alexandra HospitalWoolloongabbaAustralia
  4. 4.School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  5. 5.Population and Social Health Research Program, Griffith Health InstituteGriffith UniversityLoganAustralia
  6. 6.School of MedicineThe University of QueenslandHerstonAustralia
  7. 7.Radiation Oncology DepartmentPrincess Alexandra HospitalWoolloongabbaAustralia

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