This metadata item contributes to the definition of the concept 'Disability' and gives an indication of the experience of disability for a person.
In the context of health, an activity is the execution of a task or action by an individual. Activity limitations are difficulties an individual may have in executing an activity.
Difficulties with activities can arise when there is a qualitative or quantitative alteration in the way in which these activities are carried out. Difficulty includes matters such as 'with pain', 'time taken', 'number of errors', clumsiness', 'modification of manner in which an activity is performed' e.g. sitting to get dressed instead of standing. 'Difficulty' is a combination of the frequency with which the problem exists, the duration of the problem and the intensity of the problem. Activity limitations are assessed against a generally accepted population standard, relative to cultural and social expectations.
Activity limitation varies with the environment and is assessed in relation to a particular environment; the absence or presence of assistance, including aids and equipment, is an aspect of the environment.
The user will select the code that most closely summarises, in terms of duration, frequency, manner or outcome, the level of difficulty of the person for whom the data is recorded.
CODE 0 No difficulty in this life area
Is used when there is no difficulty in performing this activity. This scale has a margin of error of 5%. [0-4%]
CODE 1 Mild difficulty
Is recorded for example, when the level of difficulty is below the threshold for medical intervention, the difficulty is experienced less than 25% of the time, and/or with a low alteration in functioning which may happen occasionally over the last 30 days. [5-24%]
CODE 2 Moderate difficulty
Is used for example when the level of difficulty is experienced less than 50% of the time and/or with a significant, but moderate effect on functioning (Up to half the scale of total performance) which may happen regularly over the last 30 days. [25-49%]
CODE 3 Severe difficulty
Is used for example when performance in this life area can be achieved, but with only extreme difficulty, and/or with an extreme effect on functioning which may happen often over the last 30 days. [50-95%]
CODE 4 Complete difficulty
Is used when the person can not perform in this life area due of the difficulty in doing so. This scale has a margin of error of 5%. [96-100%]
CODE 8 Not specified
Is used where a person has difficulty with activities in a life area but there is insufficient information to use codes 0-4.
CODE 9 Not applicable
Is used where a life area is not applicable to this person, e.g. domestic life for a child under 5.
Source and reference attributes
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) which is the Australian Collaborating Centre for the World Health Organization Family of International Classifications.
WHO 2001. ICF: International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Geneva: WHO
AIHW 2003. ICF Australian User Guide Version 1.0. Canberra: AIHW
Further information on the ICF, including more detailed codes, can be found in the ICF itself and the ICF Australian User Guide (AIHW 2003), at the following websites: