Objectives: The aims of this study were to identify the social and clinical needs of patients attending an inner city psychiatric service, to examine the relationship between need and various demographic and social parameters, and to demonstrate the usefulness of the Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN) in an Irish population.
Methods: A random sample of patients was selected from a census of patients attending the Mater Hospital (Dublin) sector psychiatric service on March 1, 1997 for inclusion in the study. Needs were assessed using the Camberwell Assessment of Need.
Results: Fifty-seven patients agreed to participate in the study. The mean number of needs identified by patients was 2.14 (+/− 2.09) and by staff 1.92 (+/−1.18). There was a high level of correlation between staff and patients. The areas where patients most frequently expressed a need were ‘psychological distress’, ‘company’, ‘physical health’, ‘information’ and ‘looking after the home’. Eighteen patients (32%) identified needs that were not being met.
Conclusions: This study confirms the usefulness of the Camberwell Assessment of Need in the identification of clinical and social needs in psychiatric populations and demonstrates its usefulness in an Irish population.