Exploring the ICF-CY: What are Environmental Factors?

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health-Children & Youth (ICF-CY) is a framework for describing and organizing information on functioning and disability.

This post is the tenth in the ICF series and explores what constitutes an environmental factor.  Environmental factors have an impact on all components of functioning in the ICF.    They affect the experience of participation and can be either facilitators or barriers to an individual’s participation. Generally, environmental factors include:

  • People
  • Community
  • Medical professionals
  • Equipment and bracing
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Structures & design
  • Services
  • Laws and policies

Don’t forget that we physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists are considered environmental factors 🙂

Family forms the “core environment” of the child.  Here is a great article: Family Factors associated with Participation of Children with Disabilities: A Systematic Review.  (Arakelyan, 2019)


Wondering about tests and measures that pertain to environmental factors?  Here are a few:

  • Craig Hospital Inventory of Environmental Factors (CHIEF/CHIEF-SF) 13 yrs+.  The Child and Adolescent Scale of Environment (CASE) is a modified version.
  • Affordances in the Home Environment for Motor Development-Infant Scale (AHEMD-IS) – in process of validation.
  • Participation and Environment Measure-Children & Youth (PEM-CY) Participation & environmenal factors in home, school & community. 5-17 yrs



Author: spritelypt

Pediatric physical therapist

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