1. Davidson, Patricia MEd, PhD, RN, ICNC, MRCNA
  2. Cockburn, Jill MSc, PhD
  3. Daly, John BHSc, MEd(Hons), PhD, RN, FINE, FCN(NSW), FRCNA
  4. Fisher, Rob Sanson PhD


Determining an individual's unique perspective of an illness experience remains a challenge for clinicians, administrators, and researchers. A range of concepts and psychometric measures have been developed and evaluated to capture this information. These include patient satisfaction, quality of life, and utility measures. Needs assessment as a tool for evaluating perceptions of health status and determining patient satisfaction and treatment plans has been explored in oncology. Studies have demonstrated that a high proportion of patients have unmet needs in relation to activities of daily living, information sources, and comfort. Heart failure (HF), a condition with significant individual and societal burden, mirrors the illness of experience of cancer, as individuals process issues related to prognosis, treatment regimens, and decreased functional status. A needs-based assessment of health status, expectations, and perceptions is patient-centered and has the capacity to not only evaluate current health status but also plan and project care plans. Needs assessment is a dynamic construct rather than a point in time consistent with other assessment modalities, such as quality of life. Multidimensional needs assessment allows for planning and projection of needs, not only on an individual but also a population basis. Implicit in the exploration of needs is an expectation of level of care to be provided, from both the provider and recipient of care. In many instances a misalignment may exist between services and resources available to the individual. This article seeks to provide a theoretical justification for the development of a needs assessment instrument for patients with HF and to discuss the rationale of this method of assessment to create better alignment and resources with patients needs and expectations.