Environmental factors cluster

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Data Set Specification
METeOR identifier:320195
Registration status:Health, Standard 29/11/2006
Disability, Standard 13/08/2015
Community Services (retired), Standard 16/10/2006
DSS type:Data Element Cluster

This data cluster is one of four clusters that make up the Functioning and Disability DSS. To ensure a complete description of human functioning it is recommended that this cluster be collected along with the following three clusters over time and by a range of health and community care providers:

  1. Body functions cluster
  2. Body structures cluster
  3. Activities and participation cluster

Environmental factors make up the physical, social and attitudinal environment in which people live and conduct their lives. These factors can have a positive or negative influence on a person's participation as a member of society, on performance of activities, or on a person's body function or structure.

The Environmental Factors cluster collects information on the extent to which each of the domains in the five chapters listed below influence the body function or structure, activity or participation of a person:

  1. Products and technology
  2. Natural environment and human-made changes to environment
  3. Support and relationships
  4. Attitudes
  5. Services, systems and policies

Each chapter contains categories at different levels ordered from general to detailed. For detailed information the user should follow the structure of the ICF; the codes should be drawn from the same hierarchical level within any particular chapter.

Codes at the ICF chapter headings may be recorded. If further detail is required the Environmental Factors classification includes 3 and 4 digit codes:

e5     Services, systems and policies

e580  Health services, systems and policies

e5800 Health services

Where multiple environmental factors and the extent of influence are recorded, the following prioritising system may be useful:

  • The first recorded environmental factor is the one having the greatest impact on the individual.
  • Second and subsequent environmental factors are also of relevance to the individual.

The Environmental factors cluster may be used in health, community services and other disability-related data collections to record the environmental factors that facilitate or inhibit optimum functioning at the body, person or societal level. Identifying whether, and by how much, these environmental factors are influencing an individual's level of functioning, and whether the influence is a facilitator or barrier, may indicate the sorts of interventions that will optimise the individual's functioning. This information may be useful for policy development, service provision, or advocacy purposes. Preventative strategies could also be indicated by this information.

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:

For each environmental factor code recorded there should be one response for the influence of the environmental factor.

There are numerous possible methods for collecting environmental factors. Information can be collected on:

  • all environmental factors;
  • environmental factors of particular relevance;
  • a number of environmental factors, prioritised according to specified criteria;
  • one environmental factor per person; or
  • record environmental factors for each recorded body function, body structure, and activities and participation.

See also the ICF Australian User Guide for further guidelines.


This cluster is based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The ICF was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2001 as a reference member of the WHO Family of International Classifications and of the Australian Family of Health and Related Classifications (endorsed by the National Health Information Management Group in 2002).

The ICF provides a framework for the description of human functioning and disability. The components of ICF are defined in relation to a health condition. A health condition is an ‘umbrella term for disease (acute or chronic), disorder, injury or trauma’ (WHO 2001). A health condition may be recorded, for example, as:

  • Episode of care principal diagnosis, code (ICD-10-AM 5th Ed) ANN{.N[N}
  • Episode of care additional diagnosis, code (ICD-10-AM 5th Ed) ANN{.N[N}.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) which is the Australian Collaborating Centre for the World Health Organization Family of International Classifications.

Relational attributes

Implementation in Data Set Specifications:

Disability and need for assistance cluster Disability, Standard 13/08/2015
Community Services (retired), Standard 10/04/2013

Functioning and Disability DSS Health, Standard 29/11/2006
Disability, Standard 13/08/2015
Community Services (retired), Standard 16/10/2006

Metadata items in this Data Set Specification

Seq No.Metadata item Obligation Max occurs
-Person—environmental factor, code (ICF 2001) AN[NNN]Mandatory1
-Person—extent of environmental factor influence, code (ICF 2001) [X]NMandatory1