Objectives: To make an inventory of needs assessment instruments in dementia, to explore the interaction between unmet needs and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and to relate these to the conceptual model of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs in order to design a dementia-specific model.
Methods: Narrative review of literature on (measures of) needs of patients and caregivers and HRQoL determinants important in dementia. Relating these needs to individual goal setting instruments and Maslow's Hierarchy of needs model.
Results: The Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly (CANE) turns out to be a valid tool to assess needs of dementia patients, suitable for research and clinical use. The Carers' Needs Assessment for Dementia (CNA-D) is a valid instrument to assess needs of caregivers. Patients identified significantly fewer needs than (in)formal caregivers. The most important needs, that also determine large part of HRQoL, are need for information; support with regard to symptoms of dementia; social contact and company; and for health monitoring and safety. Goal attainment scaling in dementia is an important but not yet valid outcome measure, with only few data on feasibility in dementia patients.
Conclusion: There are several instruments to assess needs of dementia patients and caregivers. Domains of unmet needs and HRQoL overlap. The Hierarchy Model of Needs in Dementia (HMND) offers a new theoretical framework to address the interplay between meeting of needs and improvement of HRQoL in dementia. By identifying unmet needs in dementia-research and focussing on unmet needs in dementia-care, much can be done to improve HRQoL.