Stability and change in needs of patients with schizophrenic disorders: a 15- and 17-year follow-up from first onset of psychosis, and a comparison between `objective' and `subjective' assessments of needs for care
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Need for care was studied in a Dutch incidence cohort of patients with schizophrenic disorders 15 and 17 years from first onset of psychosis. Long-term course of the disorders varied from complete remission and full community participation to chronic psychosis and long-term hospital stay. Fifty patients were assessed twice with the Needs For Care Assessment Schedule (NFCAS, Brewin and Wing 1989); at the latter follow-up an assessment was also made using the Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN, Phelan et al. 1995). The NFCAS is an investigator- or professional-based instrument which provides an `objective' assessment of needs. Need for care was recorded in 22 areas of clinical and social functioning. Comparison of the two assessments over a 2-year period demonstrated a high stability on the individual items (mean 88%, mostly concerning the absence of a problem twice), but did not show the expected stability of need status among this group of patients with chronic disorders. One in five patients (22%) had no needs at all on both occasions and 56% of the patients showed a change in needs. There was more negative than positive change: 28% suffered from new unmet needs at the 17-year follow-up, while only 12% had improved their status to no needs. About one-third (36%) had at least one unmet need, mostly regarding psychotic symptoms, dyskinesia or underactivity. The CAN provides a `subjective' assessment of needs according to the view of patients themselves. The problems patients reported most commonly were in the areas of day-time activities, social relationships and information on their condition and treatment, for all which they asked for more help than they received. This patient-based instrument produces slightly higher numbers of problems and unmet needs, and a lower ratio between met and unmet needs. There is an overall percentage of 21% of disagreement between patient and investigator view regarding the unmet need status. Agreement between the two instruments on the nature of the problems with unmet needs was lacking altogether.
KeywordsSchizophrenic Disorder Complete Remission Social Functioning Psychotic Symptom Individual Item
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