Implementing the ICF in Occupational Health; building a curriculum as an exemplary case

Carin P. M. de Brouwer*, Ludovic G. P. M. van Amelsvoort, Yvonne F. Heerkens, Guy A. M. Widdershoven, IJmert Kant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: This paper addresses the need for a paradigm shift from post-diagnosis tertiary care towards maintenance and promotion of health across the lifespan, for healthcare in general and in occupational healthcare specifically. It is based on the assumption that the realization of this paradigm shift may be facilitated by teaching (future) occupational health professionals to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

OBJECTIVE: Describing the development of a an ICF based occupational health curriculum.

METHODS: Grafting a training trajectory in the ICF for educating the biopsychosocial health paradigm, onto a training trajectory in the Critical Appraisal of a Topic (CAT), a method for teaching evidence based practice skills.

RESULTS: The development process of the training trajectories in the master program Work, Health, and Career at Maastricht University is described as an example of an intervention for shifting the paradigm in healthcare curricula. The expected results are a shift from the biomedical towards the biopsychosocial paradigm, a reductionist approach towards a more holistic view on cases, a reactive way of working towards a more proactive work style, and from using a merely quantifiable evidence base towards using a broad evidence base.

CONCLUSIONS: Incorporating the biopsychosocial paradigm into the assessment and scientific reasoning skills of students is not only valuable in occupational healthcare but might be a valuable approach for all disciplines in healthcare for which contextual factors are important e.g. rehabilitation, psychiatry and nutritional science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-186
Number of pages14
JournalWORK-A Journal of Prevention Assessment & Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Biomedical model
  • biopsychosocial model
  • evidence based practice
  • (occupational) health professionals
  • WORK
  • NEED

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