Untangling function: Measuring the severity, type and meaning of disabilities

M. G. Stineman, W. Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In this commentary, we argue that the current biomedical and psychosocial models of illness that form the basis of medicine are insufficient to describe this interface. We offer a biopsycho-ecological model of illness and disability referred to as health environmental integration (HEI) as a framework intended to encourage a more complete understanding of disability as arising at the interface between the person's internal and external worlds. By this model, person-level functional abilities as well as the subjective meaning of those functions result in part from interactions created by the exchange of energy and information between the person and his environment. Three components are essential in measuring function: severity of deficit, type of deficit, and meaning. We present functional status staging as an approach to measuring severity and type of deficit, and recovery preference exploration as a way to measure meaning. Rehabilitation medicine can come closer to bridging the gap between biological and the subjectively-based aspects of human function, by measuring all three concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-549
Number of pages7
JournalEuropa Medicophysica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Activities of daily living
  • Disabled persons
  • Environment
  • Health status indicators
  • Models, statistical
  • Outcome assessment (health care)
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Untangling function: Measuring the severity, type and meaning of disabilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this