Barthel index of activities of daily living

Last reviewed 01/2018

The Barthel index of the activities of daily living (ADL) is a method of assessing and communicating to other health professionals the degree of disability in a particular individual.

In essence, the Barthel index records indicators of independence in terms of the disability caused by impairments. It gives a score out of 20, principally concerned with physical aspects of disability, although the numerical assessment ought to be regarded with caution. The Barthel index is at its best when recorded over periods of time by a single individual, a measure of improvement of a patient. Generally speaking, a score of 14 indicates some disability, usually compatible with the level of support found in a residential home, a score of 10 compatible with discharge home provided there is maximum support and a carer in attendance.