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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Needs Assessment for cancer patients and their families

Kuang-Yi Wen* and David H Gustafson

Author Affiliations

Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis, University of Wisconsin, 1107 WARF, 610 Walnut Street, Madison, WI53726, USA

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2004, 2:11  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-2-11

Published: 26 February 2004

Abstract

Background

The assessment of needs for cancer care is a critical step in providing high quality care and achieving cancer patients' and families' satisfaction. Instruments can be used to assess needs and guide cancer care planning. This study discusses the importance of the needs assessment, relationships between needs, satisfaction and quality of life; and reviews the assessment instruments of needs experienced by cancer patients and their families.

Methods

A systematic search was conducted in MEDLINE and CANCERLIT data bases. Instruments were evaluated based on their conceptual and measurement models as well as their demonstrated reliability and validity. The authors also sought information pertaining to instruments' burden of administration and responsiveness. Measures compromised by a lack of published psychometric description were not included.

Results

This search identified 17 patient needs assessment instruments and seven family needs assessment instruments. The development and psychometric proprieties of most of these instruments were well documented. However, data on their responsiveness and burden of administration were scarce.

Conclusions

Each selected instrument meets some but not all of our criteria for validity, reliability, responsiveness and burden. It is questionable whether any instrument can be developed meeting all the requirements. However, there is still a need to continue researching and developing needs assessment instruments leading to effective intervention and improving quality of cancer care.