Background: ‘Learning disabilities’ (LD) refer to a wide group of neurological disorders caused by deficits in the central nervous system which influence the individual's ability to maintain-, process or convey information to others in an efficient way. A worldwide discussion about the definitions of LD continues while a conceptual framework for studying the diverse life outcomes of adults with LD is still missing.

Objective: The aim was to review the literature on the activity and participation of adults with LD based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) concepts.

Methods: “PsychInfo”, “Eric” and “PubMed” were searched for relevant literature according to the guidelines of Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). After a three-stage process, 62 articles relevant for domains of activity and participation of adults with LD were included in the review.

Results: Thirty-two articles focused on the domain of major life areas of education, work and employment and twelve articles focused on the domain of learning and applying knowledge. Limitations in activity and participation of the population with LD in these domains are recognized and discussed. Eighteen additional articles demonstrated that adults with LD confront difficulties in various life domains (e.g., communication, interpersonal interactions, mobility, and domestic life), however literature concerning these domains is scarce.

Conclusions: The ICF can be useful for further exploration of activity and participation characteristics of adults with LD in various life domains. Such exploration is required in order to gain a wider perspective of their functional characteristics and daily needs.

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Published in: PloS one, 2014, 9 (9) e106657