Background. For adolescents, there is no specific needs assessment instrument that assesses
significant problems that can benefit from specified interventions. A new instrument (S.NASA) was
developed by incorporating and adapting three well established adult needs assessment instruments.
The S.NASA covers 21 areas of functioning including social, psychiatric, educational and life skills.
Method. Client and carer interviews were conducted by different researchers. A week later the
interviews were repeated using a crossover design. Significant (cardinal) problems were generated
from the clinical interviews using a pre-defined algorithm. Final need status (three categories) was
made by clinicians assessing the cardinal problems against defined interventions. The interventions
were generated from discussions with clinicians and a survey of appropriate professionals working
Results. Pre-piloting led to the final version being administered to 40 adolescents from secure units,
forensic psychiatric and adolescent psychiatric services. There were 25 males and 15 females, mean
age 15·5 years. Overall there were moderate to good inter-rater and test–retest reliability coefficients,
the test–retest reliability coefficients for the total scores on the needs assessment interviews ranged
from 0·73 to 0·85. Consensual and face validity was good, the adolescents and staff finding the
instrument useful and helpful.
Conclusions. This new needs assessment instrument shows acceptable psychometric properties. It
should be of use in research projects assessing the needs and the provision of services for adolescents
with complex and chronic problems.