Multiprofessional Team and ICF

Tempest, S., Harries, P., Kilbride, C. & De Souza, L. (2013) Enhanced clarity and holism: the outcome of implementing the ICF with an acute stroke multidisciplinary team in England.  Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(22), 1921-1925; 10.3109/09638288.2013.766272

This article is freely available at:

Purpose: Although it is recommended that the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) should be implemented to aid communication within multidisciplinary stroke services, there is no empirical evidence to demonstrate the outcomes of such implementation. Working with one stroke service, this project aimed to address this gap and sought to evaluate the outcomes of implementing an ICF-based clinical tool into practice.

Method: Using an action research framework with mixed methods, data were collected from individual interviews, a focus group, questionnaires, email communications, minutes from relevant meetings and field notes. Thematic analysis was undertaken, using immersion and crystallisation, to define overall themes. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse quantitative data. Data from both sources were combined to create key findings.

Results: Three findings were determined from the data analysis. The ICF (1) fosters communication within and beyond the multidisciplinary stroke team; (2) promotes holistic thinking; and (3) helps to clarify team roles.

Conclusions: The ICF enhanced clarity of communication and team roles within the acute stroke multidisciplinary team as well as with other clinicians, patients and their relatives. In addition, the ICF challenged stroke clinicians to think holistically, thereby appropriately extending their domain of concern beyond their traditional remit.

Implications for Rehabilitation

  • The ICF is a globally accepted framework to describe functioning and is in use in a variety of clinical settings. Yet, the outcomes of using it in clinical practice have yet to be fully explored.
  • This study found that the ICF enhanced clarity of communication and team roles within an acute stroke multidisciplinary team and to others beyond the team, including clinicians, patients and their relatives.
  • Using the ICF also challenged clinicians to think holistically about patient needs following a stroke.