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Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 1516-4446On-line version ISSN 1809-452X

Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. vol.31 no.1 São Paulo Mar. 2009 



Feasibility and reliability of the elderly version of the Camberwell Assessment of Needs (CANE): results from the São Paulo Ageing & Health Study


Aplicabilidade e confiabilidade da versão para idosos da escala Camberwell de Avaliação de Necessidades (CANE): resultados do São Paulo Ageing & Health Study



Renata Mello de Magalhães SousaI, II; Márcia ScazufcaI, III; Paulo Rossi MenezesIII, IV; André Luiz CrepaldiI; Martin James PrinceII

IUniversity Hospital, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo (SP), Brazil
IIInstitute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK
IIILIM-23, Department of Psychiatry, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo (SP), Brazil
IVDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo (SP), Brazil





OBJECTIVE: We set out to assess the feasibility, reliability and convergent validity of the Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly Scale in older residents of a Brazilian urban elderly population of low socioeconomic status.
METHOD: We identified 32 older users of community health services from a population-based catchment area survey. We administered the Brazilian version of the Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly Scale to the older person and to an informal caregiver, and tape-recorded the assessments. Interviewers made a rating. Tape-recordings were independently co-rated.
RESULTS: Items contributing to older person and caregiver reports of needs and unmet needs had a high internal consistency. Inter-rater reliability was excellent for all needs, and fair to good for unmet needs. Older person and caregiver's reports, and interviewer ratings were highly mutually consistent. Convergent validity was supported by associations, as hypothesized, between needs and disability, and needs and dementia.
CONCLUSIONS: The Brazilian version of the Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly Scale is a feasible, reliable and, to the extent assessed, valid assessment of unmet needs in a disadvantaged low and middle income countries setting. Its practical utility as a clinical tool remains to be assessed.

Descriptors: Needs assessment; Elderly; Mental disorders; Reproducibility of results; Developing countries


OBJETIVO: O objetivo deste estudo foi o de avaliar a aplicabilidade, a confiabilidade e a validação convergente da Escala Camberwell de Avaliação de Necessidades em Idosos em uma população de baixa renda residente na cidade de São Paulo.
MÉTODO: O estudo incluiu 32 participantes com 65 anos ou mais, usuários de serviços de saúde local que fizeram parte do estudo de levantamento de base populacional. A Escala Camberwell de Avaliação de Necessidades em Idosos foi administrada ao participante e ao seu cuidador, todas as entrevistas foram gravadas. Assistentes de pesquisa pontuaram as entrevistas. As gravações foram pontuadas por um pesquisador independente.
RESULTADOS: Itens que contribuíram para a pontuação positiva de necessidades atendidas ou não atendidas pelos participantes e seus cuidadores obtiveram alto coeficientes de consistência interna. Confiabilidade entre examinadores foi excelente para todas as necessidades, e para necessidades não atendidas oscilou entre razoável e boa. As respostas de participantes e cuidadores, e as pontuações dos entrevistadores foram mutuamente consistentes. Validade convergente foi mantida pelas associações entre necessidades e incapacidade, e necessidades e demência.
CONCLUSÕES: O estudo de confiabilidade da versão brasileira da Escala Camberwell de Avaliação de Necessidades em Idosos mostrou que a mesma é um instrumento de pesquisa prático, confiável e válido para avaliar necessidades em países em desenvolvimento menos favorecidos.

Descritores: Determinação de necessidades de cuidados de saúde; Idoso; Transtornos mentais; Reprodutibilidade dos resultados; Países em desenvolvimento




By 2050 it is estimated that those over 65 years of age will comprise 18% of the total Brazilian population1. In the accompanying health transition chronic diseases linked to disability, dependency and impaired quality of life will become more prominent2. Neuropsychiatric disorders account for almost 30% of years lost to disability worldwide3. The needs of elderly people with mental illness arise from their incapacity, comorbid physical illness and social disability. Assessment of needs of care is relevant to the planning and assessment of community services and the establishment of individualized treatment goals. The original Camberwell Assessment of Needs4 has been translated into Portuguese, and its validity and reliability have been tested in a Brazilian sample of mentally ill adults5. The Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly (CANE)6 has shown good psychometric properties in the United Kingdom and Spain6-8. We assessed its feasibility and reliability when administered to a Brazilian urban socioeconomically deprived setting.



1. Setting and study design

The study was nested in the cross-sectional phase of the Sao Paulo Ageing and Health Study9,10, an epidemiological population-based investigation of over 65-year-old residents of three catchment areas in São Paulo, Brazil. Inclusion criteria were: 1) participants had sought help from a healthcare provider for a mental health problem in the past 3 months; 2) participants should be able to answer the interview on needs of care.


2. Measurements

The CANE has 24 items on the needs of the older person, and two on the needs of caregivers. Each item has four elements – 1) whether a need exists; 2) help provided by family/friends; 3) help from statutory services; 4) whether the help provided meets the needs. These items identify needs and unmet needs within each of the 26 domains, and total number of needs and unmet needs, from the perspective of the older person, the caregiver and the interviewer. The CANE was translated into Portuguese and discussed with a bilingual multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals to assess consistency with the English version. The examples provided to illustrate "no need", "met need" and "unmet needs" had to be modified to ensure relevance to the Brazilian health system. For instance, in the 'Drugs' domain the English version includes as an example of moderate help 'supervision by district nurse/community psychiatric nurse/care facility administers drugs', services as such are not provided yet by the Brazilian public health system for those having problems with medication or drugs. Therefore we used in the Brazilian version 'attendance in a program regarding drug misuse or dependency'. A pilot with patients and caregivers confirmed its comprehensibility.

Adjustments were also made in the "Information" domain, where we included a more specific question asking if the person had understood the information given about their condition/treatment. This question does not exist in the English version and its importance emerged because of the sample's difficulty in understanding symptoms and treatment.

Data from the cross-sectional survey protocol was used on:

a) Sociodemographic characteristics (gender, age, marital status, education);

b) Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT) depression diagnosis from the Geriatric Mental State (GMS)11;

c) Probable dementia, using the 10/66 Dementia Research Group's algorithm12;

d) Disability ascertained through the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS-II)13.

The CANE was administered to the participant and a caregiver by four research assistants at their homes. Informed consent was obtained. All interviews were tape-recorded to assess inter-rater reliability. The second rater (RS) was trained to administer and rate the CANE, but did not conduct any of the field interviews. RS listened to the recorded interviews and rated them blind to the first interviewer ratings. The study had ethical approval from the Universidade de São Paulo Medical School (903/03) and from the King's College London Ethical Committees.


3. Analysis

Internal consistency for total needs and unmet needs scales was assessed using Cronbach's alpha. Inter-rater reliability was assessed using Cohen's kappa for individual items and intra-class correlation for total needs and total unmet needs. Kappa of less than 0.40 indicates poor agreement, 0.40 to 0.59 fair, 0.60 to 0.74 good, and 0.75 to 1.00 excellent agreement14. We used an analogous approach to assess agreement between the participant and caregiver for needs and unmet needs. Paired t-tests were calculated to compare means between the participant and caregiver's total needs and unmet needs. Convergent validity was assessed by estimating Pearson's correlations between the WHODAS II and total and unmet needs, and by comparing total and unmet needs between those with and without dementia and depression diagnoses, using an independent sample t-test.



Thirty-two participants were included. Mean age was 72.8 years (65-88 years). Most (90%) were female, 14 (43.8%) were married/cohabitating and 12 (37.5%) widowed, 50% had no formal education. Only four (17%) had a paid caregiver. Most caregivers were adult children. Nineteen participants (59.4%) were current AGECAT depression cases, seven (21.9%) were probable 10/66 dementia cases, and four (12.5%) had had a stroke. Twenty-two (68.8%) had contacted primary care, 16 (50.0%) a hospital doctor, 17 (53.1%) another government health worker, and seven (21.9%) a private doctor in the last 3 months with a mental health complaint.

The mean total needs identified by participants, caregivers and interviewers were, respectively: 4.9 (sd 3.6), 4.7 (sd 4.0) and 3.8 (sd 2.7). The mean total of unmet needs identified by participants, caregivers and interviewers were, respectively: 1.5 (1.8), 1.5 (2.2) and 1.7 (2.1). Paired t-tests indicated no systematic differences between the reports of the participant, caregiver and interviewer, other than that participants rated more total needs than interviewers (paired mean difference 1.1, 0.2-1.9). The intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) for agreement between participant and caregiver's reports were 0.53 (0.23-0.74) for total needs, and 0.64 (0.39-0.81) for unmet needs.

According to participants, caregivers and interviewers, physical needs predominated (Table 1). Memory problems, psychological distress and psychotic symptoms were also important. Physical health needs were generally met, other than needs related to eyesight and hearing. Needs arising from psychological distress were generally unmet, while psychotic symptoms and memory needs were catered for better. Other outstanding unmet needs were in the social domain (daytime activities and company), and in caregiver's need for information.



1. Reliability

Internal scale consistency (Cronbach's alpha) was high for participant (0.79) and caregiver's ratings (0.83) of total needs, moderate for participant (0.57) and high for caregiver's reports (0.72) of unmet needs. Inter-rater reliability for participant and caregiver's responses was assessed with kappa coefficients for each CANE item. Agreement on any needs was excellent for almost all items, good for participant's report of physical health needs and caregiver's report of needs arising from drug dependency and fair for caregiver's report of need for information. Agreement on unmet needs was fair to good for most items. Intra-class correlations for total needs were 0.99 (0.99-1.00) for participants and 0.99 (0.97-0.99) for caregivers. For total unmet needs the ICCs were slightly lower, 0.76 (0.58-0.87) and 0.87 (0.77-0.93), respectively.


2. Concurrent validity

Caregivers' reports of total needs correlated more strongly with the WHODAS II (r = 0.55) than did those of the participant (r = 0.42) or the interviewer (r = 0.40). For unmet needs the correlation coefficients were 0.44 (caregiver), 0.42 (participant) and 0.45 (interviewer). Total needs were higher for dementia cases then non-cases according to caregivers (mean difference 5.3, 2.3-8.3) and interviewers (3.3, 1.3-5.3), the difference being smaller and not statistically significant for participant reports (2.1, -1.5-5.2). Total needs for AGECAT depression cases were higher than for non-cases according to participants, the difference being smaller and not statistically significant for caregiver and interviewer's ratings.


3. Feasibility

The CANE was feasible and practical. However some adaptations were necessary to suit the local health system, and these together with the need to explain carefully the concept of need to uneducated participants meant that the duration of the assessment was around 40 minutes. More practically orientated domains such as "looking after home", "food", "self-care", and "benefits" were better understood, and more easily rated. Domains such as "psychological distress", "behavior" and "intimate relationships" were too abstract for some participants. Many participants lived in precarious accommodation, with overcrowding and poor sanitation. A need for accommodation was constantly present according to interviewers, although sometimes not rated by the participant.



Previous studies from developed countries have shown the CANE to have robust psychometric properties6,8,15. An adult version of the CAN has been validated in Brazil5. However, the present study is the first to assess the feasibility, reliability and validity of the CANE in a disadvantaged elderly population with limited access to health and social care. The CANE had good internal scale consistency, good to excellent inter-rater reliability at item and scale level, high levels of agreement between participant, caregiver and interviewer ratings, and good convergent validity. Although feasible, in comparison with studies in high income countries6,8,15, it took longer to administer the CANE in Brazil, probably because of the difficulty of conveying the concept of need in non-technical terms to participants with little formal education.

Tentatively, given the small sample size, our findings suggest some directions for future research and practice. While physical health care needs were generally considered to have been met, there seemed to be an unmet need for audiological and ophthalmological services. Needs arising from psychological distress were common and unmet, despite recent health service contact. Social needs for company and for daily activities were strikingly unmet. Finally caregivers needed more information about the older persons' health conditions and treatment. Unmet needs could be considerably reduced if such support was provided for caregivers.

Studies of needs, met and unmet, within a larger community-based sample can inform health care planning and provision. In Brazil, policymakers are implementing a new model of care, the Family Health Program,15 which is being rapidly rolled-out. Family Health teams provide basic healthcare for all residents in small catchment areas and refer more complex cases to specialized services. The CANE could be a useful tool for the new community health workers on the Family Health Program.



The authors would like to thank all the field work team from the initial phase of the Sao Paulo Ageing and Health Study (SPAH) who made the first assessments. RS received a Master's Level Fellowship from The Wellcome Trust Health Consequences of Population Change Programme (grant no. 069499), and was supervised by Drs. Paulo R. Menezes and Marcia Scazufca while in Brazil and Prof. Martin Prince while in London.




1. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE. Projeção da População do Brasil por sexo e idade para o período 1980-2050: revisão 2004. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE; 2004 [citado 18 fev 2008].Disponível em:         [ Links ]

2. Lima-Costa MF, Veras R. Aging and public health. Cad Saude Publica. 2003;(3):701.         [ Links ]

3. Murray CJ, Lopez A. The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; 1996.         [ Links ]

4. Phelan M, Slade M, Thornicroft G, Dunn G, Holloway F, Wykes T, Strathdee G, Loftus L, McCrone P, Hayward P. The Camberwell Assessment of Need: the validity and reliability of an instrument to assess the needs of people with severe mental illness. Br J Psychiatry. 1995;167(5):589-95.         [ Links ]

5. Schlithler AC, Scazufca M, Busatto G, Coutinho LM, Menezes PR. Reliability of the Brazilian version of the Camberwell Assessment of Needs (CAN) in first-episode psychosis cases in São Paulo, Brazil. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2007;29(2):160-3.         [ Links ]

6. Reynolds T, Thornicroft G, Abas M, Woods B, Hoe J, Leese M, Orrell M. Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly (CANE). Development, validity and reliability. Br J Psychiatry. 2000;176(5):444-52.         [ Links ]

7. Walters K, Iliffe S, Tai SS, Orrell M. Assessing needs from patient, carer and professional perspectives: the Camberwell Assessment of need for Elderly people in primary care. Age Ageing. 2000;29(6):505-10.         [ Links ]

8. Mesa MY, Alvarez RM, Alvarez MJG, Paz MTA, Perez IF. Validacion de la version Espanola del CANE. Escala de evaluacion de necesidades para ancianos de Camberwell. Rev Psicogeriatr. 2002;2(1): 38-44.         [ Links ]

9. Scazufca M, Seabra CA. Sao Paulo portraits: ageing in a large metropolis. Int J Epidemiol. 2008;37(4):721-3.         [ Links ]

10. Scazufca M, Menezes PR, Vallada HP, Crepaldi AL, Pastor-Valero M, Coutinho LM, Di Rienzo VD, Almeida OP. High prevalence of dementia among older adults from poor socioeconomic backgrounds in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Int Psychogeriatr. 2008;20(2):394-405.         [ Links ]

11. Copeland JR, Dewey ME, Griffiths-Jones HM. A computerized psychiatric diagnostic system and case nomenclature for elderly subjects: GMS and AGECAT. Psychol Med. 1986;16(1):89-99.         [ Links ]

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13. Rehm J, Ustun TB, Saxena S, Nelson CB, Chatterji S, Ivis F, Adlaf E. On the development and psychometric testing of the WHO screening instrument to assess disablement in the general population. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 1999;8:110-22.         [ Links ]

14. Landis JR, Koch GG. An application of hierarchical kappa-type statistics in the assessment of majority agreement among multiple observers. Biometrics. 1977;33(2):363-74.         [ Links ]

15. Ministry of Health of Brazil. Programa de Saúde da Família (Family Health Program). Brazil: Ministry of Health; 2001.         [ Links ]



Márcia Scazufca
Instituto de Psiquiatria - LIM 23
R. Dr. Ovidio Pires de Campos 785, andar térreo
05403-010 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Phone: (+55 11) 3039-6978

Submitted: June 25, 2008
Accepted: November 1st, 2008




1. Acomodação

O Sr/Sra acha que a sua casa é adequada para as suas necessidades?
(Se está adequada é porque o Sr/Sra recebe ajuda?)

1.1 O sujeito tem um lugar para morar?



1.2 Quanta ajuda o sujeito recebe de amigos e parentes, com relação à acomodação



1.3 Quanta ajuda o sujeito recebe dos serviços locais, com relação à acomodação?

1.4 Quanta ajuda o sujeito precisa dos serviços locais, com relação à acomodação?



1.5 O sujeito recebe o tipo de ajuda com relação à acomodação?
(0 = não; 1= sim; 9 = não se sabe)

1.6 No geral, o sujeito está satisfeitocom a quantidade de ajuda que recebe para sua acomodação?
(0 = não está satisfeito; 1 = satisfeito; 9 = não se sabe)

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