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Open Access Research article

The reliability of WorkWell Systems Functional Capacity Evaluation: a systematic review

Sebastian Bieniek and Matthias Bethge*

Author Affiliations

Department for Rehabilitation Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Straße 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:106  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-106

Published: 27 March 2014



Functional capacity evaluation (FCE) determines a person’s ability to perform work-related tasks and is a major component of the rehabilitation process. The WorkWell Systems (WWS) FCE (formerly known as Isernhagen Work Systems FCE) is currently the most commonly used FCE tool in German rehabilitation centres. Our systematic review investigated the inter-rater, intra-rater and test-retest reliability of the WWS FCE.


We performed a systematic literature search of studies on the reliability of the WWS FCE and extracted item-specific measures of inter-rater, intra-rater and test-retest reliability from the identified studies. Intraclass correlation coefficients ≥ 0.75, percentages of agreement ≥ 80%, and kappa coefficients ≥ 0.60 were categorised as acceptable, otherwise they were considered non-acceptable. The extracted values were summarised for the five performance categories of the WWS FCE, and the results were classified as either consistent or inconsistent.


From 11 identified studies, 150 item-specific reliability measures were extracted. 89% of the extracted inter-rater reliability measures, all of the intra-rater reliability measures and 96% of the test-retest reliability measures of the weight handling and strength tests had an acceptable level of reliability, compared to only 67% of the test-retest reliability measures of the posture/mobility tests and 56% of the test-retest reliability measures of the locomotion tests. Both of the extracted test-retest reliability measures of the balance test were acceptable.


Weight handling and strength tests were found to have consistently acceptable reliability. Further research is needed to explore the reliability of the other tests as inconsistent findings or a lack of data prevented definitive conclusions.

Functional capacity evaluation; Assessment; Reliability; Systematic review; WorkWell Systems; Isernhagen