Need assessment tools

Annotated Bibliography

Evans, S., Greenhalgh, J. & Connelly, J. (2000).  Selecting a mental health needs assessment

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scale: guidance on the critical appraisal of standardized measures. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 6 (4), 379–393.

            This article presents the argument that mental health needs assessment scales are valuable tools in providing healthcare for mental health patients the lack of uniformity and the diversity of the needs that each tool targets have made it imperative that appropriate guidance should be made on how to use the needs assessment tools. The authors provide a step-by-step process in which to evaluate needs assessment tools to be used by healthcare professionals. The process outlined that an assessment tool should be chosen based on how appropriate it is for the target population, for example, if it was for adolescents then it should be constructed in the level understandable to adolescents. The next step was to compare the assessment tool to the most popular and validated assessment tools and last is to make sure the healthcare professionals who will use it have adequate knowledge of the tool. It was also suggested that mental health needs assessment scales should always be available for evaluation even before it is used for research or clinical purposes. This article makes a point in telling the readers that assessment tools may be a simplistic and effective tool but it should still be carefully selected and that attention should be given in how to properly evaluate any of these tools.

While, A., Ullman, R. & Forbes, A. (2007). Development and validation of a learning needs

assessment scale: a continuing professional education tool for multiple sclerosis specialist nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing 16 (6), 1099–1108.

            This article aimed to develop and establish the validity of a learning needs assessment scale for continuing professional development of specialist nurses. The authors developed a learning needs assessment based on the self-assessment responses of the target subjects. The learning needs assessment scale underwent the three psychometric process involved in the development of a standardized test. The arduous process was geared towards the refinement of the assessment scale as well as establishing its validity. Statistical analysis led to the rewriting of items and a more robust standardization of scores. The authors argued that an objective and well developed instrument to assess the learning needs of specialists can be used together with other means of assessing training needs. It was concluded that since quality of nursing care is dependent on how equipped nurses are both in knowledge and skills, the development of a valid assessment scale helps identify and target the needs of nurses which translates into improved nursing practices. This article makes it clear that needs assessment tools should be specific and yet highly objective measures of the training needs of the target participants because it will be used as basis for providing answers to those needs.

Hicks, C. & Hennessy, D. (1998). A triangulation approach to the identification of acute sector

nurses’ training needs for formal nurse practitioner status. Journal of Advanced Nursing 27 (1) , 117–131.

This research article sought to define the role of a nurse practitioner and how it was congruent to advanced clinical practice. It was argued that the varying definitions and functions of a nurse practitioner have led to the confusion of what a nurse practitioner is and how nurses can be called as such. In this connection, the research study asked nurses to describe the role and training needs of a nurse practitioner in an advanced clinical practice. The authors used a newly developed training needs assessment tool which identified the real training needs of nurses as well as the perception of other medical staff. The results revealed that nurses and administrators had similar perceptions of what an advance level nurse roles should be while the other medical staff had somewhat different perceptions. This made it possible for the authors to triangulate the data they gathered and hence was able to come up with a concrete definition of what an advance nurse practitioner is and what training should be given in order to reach this status. The triangulation of the data gave the researchers more data to work with and that it came from different sectors and therefore was able to weed out the most relevant roles and functions of a nurse practitioner. This article implies that a needs assessment tool should not only be based on the target population but rather also on key players in the field that it is being used since more data generally means a more accurate picture of what really is needed.

Hindley, N., James, A. & Gurney-Smith, B. (2003). Implementing a multi-agency needs

assessment in a secure adolescent unit. Child and Adolescent Mental Health 8 (4) , 184–190.

            This article presented a means of implementing a needs assessment instrument for the use of adolescent mental health patients. Although needs assessment scales had been around for sometime, the manner in which it was implemented have not received any attention when the author’s argue that knowing which tool to use and how it should be used is just as important. The authors developed a model that implemented the Salford Needs Assessment Schedule for Adolescents in a secure social services unit for boys. The multi-agency process developed by the authors yielded positive results especially that social services and health care professionals were able to take part in the process. The authors recommended that mental health issues with adolescents can be adequately answered through the use of structured assessment scales and in a multi-agency process.

Hung, L., Liu, C.  & Kuo, H. (2002). Unmet nursing care needs of home-based disabled patients

Journal of Advanced Nursing 40 (1), 96–104

            This research article presents a study conducted in Taiwan to measure the extent of care given to disabled patients. It is a reality in Taiwan that most disabled patients are cared for by their family members at home, however, the family caregiver is not always equipped with the skills and knowledge of how to care for the disabled patient. The study therefore sought to determine how adequate were the care that the patients were receiving. The participants were grouped according to their level of dependency on others and nurses were asked to complete the Assessment of Nursing Activity questionnaire which measured the unmet needs of the patients and their caregiver’s knowledge. The research results reported that disabled patients had high unmet needs and that this was dependent on the age of the patient, activity level, educational level of the caregiver and knowledge of patient needs and caregiving skills. The researchers recommend that counseling and training be given to families who have disabled patients and that adequate training and education should also be included.


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