Conceptual review of measuring functional impairment: findings from the Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale

This is a narrative review of validation and outcome studies using the Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale (WFIRS). The objective of the review is to establish a framework for understanding functional impairment and create a definition for functional response and remission.


We conducted a literature search via MEDLINE, EBSCO and Google Scholar with no date restrictions and reviewed bibliographies of selected publications. Publications found in languages other than English were translated and clarification obtained from the author(s) if needed. Inclusion criteria were any manuscript that was either a WFIRS psychometric validation study or a clinical trial using the WFIRS as an outcome. There were no exclusion criteria.


The WFIRS has been validated in multiple cultures, and in clinical, research and control populations. The WFIRS has robust psychometric properties across ages, psychiatric status and informants. Outcome studies show variable improvement, with different response patterns between domains and among different interventions.


Symptom improvement and remission needs to be complemented with evaluation of functional improvement and remission to obtain a full picture of clinical status over the course of treatment.