Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 121–125 | Cite as

Introduction to Special Section: Advancing the Field of Vocational Rehabilitation with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

  • Reuben EscorpizoEmail author
  • Hans Peter Gmünder
  • Gerold Stucki


Background Work disability is a major burden to individuals and the society. To mitigate this burden, vocational rehabilitation has been at the forefront of facilitating work participation. With the complexity of vocational rehabilitation, we need a unifying framework to capture the essential domains of functioning. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) could serve as the common reference and language. The purpose of this special section is to demonstrate the use and benefits of the ICF to stakeholders and advocates of vocational rehabilitation. Methods The project on the ICF Core Set for vocational rehabilitation was conducted in collaboration with national and international organizations. The project consisted of three sequential phases: (1) four development studies, (2) international consensus conference, and (3) testing and validation of the ICF Core Set. Results In the first article, a conceptual definition of vocational rehabilitation based on the ICF is proposed. Findings from the first phase of the project are presented in the following four articles. Our findings reflected a wide range of factors that could influence success (or failure) in vocational rehabilitation. Conclusion This special section has presented five articles in an effort to advance our understanding and measurement of vocational rehabilitation process and outcomes. This special section also illustrates the complexity of the contents of vocational rehabilitation and offers the vocational rehabilitation community the added value of integrating the ICF in practice and research.


ICF Vocational rehabilitation Occupational rehabilitation Employment Return to work Work 



We would like to thank the Steering Committee members: Nenad Kostanjsek (WHO), Barbara Murray (ILO), Catherine Sykes (WCPT), Marilyn Pattison (WFOT), Alessandro Giustini, and Jan Ekholm (ISPRM); the Local Advisory Group: Peter Erhart, Ulrike Hoffmann-Richter, Stefan Ritler, Kurt Gfeller, Cornelia Bachofner, Carl Gennheimer, Olivier Deriaz, Gilles Rivier, Franco Lanfranchi, Andreas Klipstein, Hans-Martin Schian, and Christian Wenk. We would like to acknowledge Melissa Selb and Monika Finger from the ICF Research Branch, and Brittany Norton for their review of this manuscript prior to submission. Special thanks to JOOR Chief Editor Michael Feuerstein and Managing Editor Patricia A. Findley for the great opportunity to be able to contribute to the advancement of the field of vocational rehabilitation. The Swiss Accident Insurance of Switzerland (Suva) funded the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reuben Escorpizo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Hans Peter Gmünder
    • 4
  • Gerold Stucki
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF)NottwilSwitzerland
  2. 2.ICF Research Branch in cooperation with the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications in Germany (at DIMDI)NottwilSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Health Sciences and Health PolicyUniversity of Lucerne and SPFNottwilSwitzerland
  4. 4.Swiss Paraplegic Center, (SPZ)NottwilSwitzerland

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