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Keywords:

  • needs assessment;
  • mental health services;
  • outcome assessment;
  • community-based care;
  • longitudinal studies

Objective:  This study aimed to investigate changes and predictors of change in needs for care, as assessed by both patients and mental health professionals, in a sample of subjects receiving community-based psychiatric care.

Method:  The study was conducted using a 4-year prospective longitudinal design. A cohort of patients from the South-Verona Community Mental Health Service (CMHS) was assessed at baseline and follow-up using the Camberwell Assessment of Need, both staff and patient versions. Predictors of changes in needs were explored using block-stratified multiple regression analyses.

Results:  An overall stability for both patient-rated and staff-rated needs was found over time; however, significant changes in some specific need domains were found, such as self-rated health needs (improvement), self-rated social needs (deterioration) and staff-rated health needs (deterioration). Changes over time in self-rated and staff-rated needs are influenced by different and specific set of predictors, thus indicating that the two measures are not overlapping and convey different types of information.

Conclusion:  Our data support the adoption of a negotiated approach in which both staff and users’ views should be given equal weight when planning and providing needs-led mental health care.