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Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN)

What is the adult Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN)?

The CAN is a family of questionnaires that can be used to assess the wide range of problems which can be experienced by people who have mental health problems. It assesses the health and social needs of adults across 22 domains of life, such as accommodation, food, self-care, daytime activities, psychotic symptoms, childcare, money, psychological distress, physical health and relationships.

There are four versions of the adult CAN (CANSAS, CANSAS-P, CAN-R and CAN-C) for use in clinical work and in research studies. The 2nd edition of all versions of CAN can be downloaded here. We also give information about completing a CAN assessment, clinical use of the CAN, research use of the CAN, and CAN training.

CAN has been translated into 30 languages and information about translations is here.

CAN variants have also been developed for use with other populations, and information about variants is here.

Camberwell Assessment of Need Short Appraisal Schedule (CANSAS)

CANSAS is a one-page version that can be used in routine clinical work or as an outcome measure in research studies. It assesses the need rating for each of the 22 CAN domains. The perspective of staff, service users and informal carers are recorded separately. Information is recorded on CANSAS by staff. Download CANSAS here


CANSAS-P is a two-page version intended for self-completion by service users. It assesses the service user’s perceptions about their needs in each of the 22 CAN domains. Download CANSAS-P here

CAN-Research (CAN-R)

The CAN-R is a 22-page detailed assessment designed for research use, which measures the need rating, help received from formal and informal sources, and satisfaction for each domain. Download CAN-R here

Camberwell Assessment of Need-Clinical (CAN-C)

The CAN-C is a 22-page detailed assessment designed for clinical use, which measures the need rating, help received from formal and informal sources, and records an action plan for each domain. Download CAN-C here

Which version of the adult CAN should I use?

All versions of the adult CAN measure the ‘need rating’ for each domain. The need rating is either ‘Unmet need’ (a current serious problem), ‘Met need’ (no problem because of help given) or ‘No need’ (not a problem). The most useful data to emerge from research using CAN has been the need rating for service user-rated unmet need. Therefore, CANSAS or CANSAS-P will be the most appropriate version for most uses.

CAN 2nd edition

The first edition of the adult CAN was developed by a team of collaborators at King’s College London in 1994:

Phelan M, Slade M, Thornicroft G, Dunn G, Holloway F, Wykes T, Strathdee G, Loftus L, McCrone P & Hayward P (1995) The Camberwell Assessment of Need: the validity and reliability of an instrument to assess the needs of people with severe mental illness, British Journal of Psychiatry, 167, 589-95. Available here


The CAN 1st edition was published in book form in 1999:

Slade M, Loftus L, Phelan M, Thornicroft G Wykes T (1999) The Camberwell Assessment of Need, London: Gaskell.


The CAN 2nd edition was published in 2020, and updates the CAN domains and scoring of need rating:

Slade M, Thornicroft G (2020) Camberwell Assessment of Need, 2nd edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Available here

Why has the CAN become so widely used?

The CAN is now the most widely used needs assessment measure internationally, for several reasons:

  • It is standardised – the reliability and validity have been tested, so it produces meaningful data
  • It is comprehensive – it assesses a full range of health and social needs
  • It is multi-perspective – it separately assesses the perspective of staff, service users and family members
  • It is widely available – it has been translated into 30 languages
  • It is clinically useful – identifying areas of agreement and disagreement supports negotiation of a service user’s care plan
  • It measures an important outcome – the service user’s perspective on their unmet needs (‘patient-rated unmet need’) has emerged as an important variable, and reducing their unmet need causes improvements in therapeutic alliance and quality of life