Research into Recovery and Wellbeing

A website about the work of the recovery research team at the Institute of Mental Health

The University of Nottingham

Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN)

What is the Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN)?

The CAN is a family of questionnaires that can be used to assess the wide range of problems potentially experienced by people who have mental health problems. It was developed by a team of collaborators at King's College London.

The adult CAN is for use with people with severe or long-term mental health problems. Four versions have been developed:

CAN-C is a 22-page assessment that records information about need and support, and an action plan for each of the 22 CAN domains and is for clinical use;
CAN-R is a 22-page assessment that records information about need, support and satisfaction for each of the 22 CAN domains and is for research use;
CANSAS is a one-page assessment that records the need rating for each of the 22 CAN domains;
CANSAS-P is a two-page assessment designed for self-completion that records the need rating for each of the 22 CAN domains.

CAN-C, CAN-R, CANSAS and CANSAS-P are all included in the CAN book:

CAN: Camberwell Assessment of Need 
Mike Slade, Graham Thornicroft, Linda Loftus, Michael Phelan and Til Wykes. June 1999,
published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

More information about the adult CAN is available within this section of the website – use the menu on the left to navigate the adult CAN pages.

Variants of the CAN

Variants of the CAN have also been developed:

CANDID for people who have intellectual disabilities
CANDID: Camberwell Assesment of Need for Adults with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.
Kiriakos Xenitidis, Mike Slade, Graham Thornicroft and Nick Bouras. October 2003,
published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

CANE for older adults who have mental health problems
CANE: Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly.
Martin Orrell and Geraldine Hancock. June 2004,
published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

CANFOR for people using forensic mental health services
CANFOR: Camberwell Assessment of Need – Forensic version.
Stuart Thomas, Mari-Anne Harty, Janet Parrott, Paul McCrone, Mike Slade and Graham Thornicroft. June 2003,
published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

CAN-M for mothers and pregnant women with mental health problems
CAN-M: Camberwell Assessment of Need for Mothers.
Louise Howard, Katherine Hunt, Mike Slade, Veronica O'Keane, Trudi Seneviratne, Morven Leese, Graham Thornicroft and Malcolm Wiseman. July 2008,
published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

HESPER (the Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs Scale) is a measure based on CANSAS that aims to provide a 'quick, scientifically robust way of assessing the perceived serious needs of people affected by large-scale humanitarian emergencies such as war, conflict or major natural disaster.' 'Perceived needs' are those that are 'felt or expressed by people themselves and are problem areas with which they would like help.' (taken from The Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs Scale [HESPER] Manual). The HESPER Scale was developed by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London and the World Health Organisation. Download the HESPER Manual. The Manual includes the HESPER scale, information about how to use it, how to train interviewers and how to analyse and report on a survey undertaken using it.

How was the CAN developed?

The adult CAN was developed in 1994 by Graham Thornicroft, Mike Slade (who now leads the recovery research team), Til Wykes and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. New versions of the adult CAN and variants for use with other groups have been developed by collaborators around the world.

How is the CAN used?

The CAN is now the most widely used needs assessment measure internationally, and it is in used in many different countries.

Why has the CAN become so widely used?

The CAN is successful because:
1. It is standardised – the reliability and validity have been tested, so it produces meaningful data.
2. It is comprehensive – it assesses a full range of health and social needs.
3. It is multi-perspective – it separately assesses the perspective of staff, service users and family members.
4. It is widely available – it has been translated into 26 languages.
5. It is clinically useful – identifying areas of agreement and disagreement supports negotiation of a service user’s care plan. 
6. It measures an important outcome – the service user’s perspective on their unmet needs has emerged as an important variable, and reducing their unmet need causes improvements in therapeutic alliance and quality of life.