Development and psychometric properties of a scale assessing the needs of caregivers of children with disabilities

Seok Hong Tan, M.P.H, Postgraduate Unit, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Disability and Health Journal, July 2015 Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 414–423


Planning and evaluation of health care services for children with disabilities requires information on their caregivers’ needs.


This paper aims to present the development and psychometric properties of the Caregiver Needs Scale (CNS), a scale assessing the needs of caregivers of children with disabilities aged 0–12 years in Malaysia.


Development of the scale went through a multistage process of literature review, modification of an existing instrument, input from experts and feedback from service users. Literature review identified content domains and response options. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was undertaken to identify subscales of caregiver needs. The internal consistency reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity of the new scale were examined.


273 caregivers of children with disabilities completed the fielded questionnaire. EFA revealed 4 subscales of caregiver needs: need for ‘Help getting information and services for the child,’ ‘Help coping with the child,’ ‘Help getting child care’ and ‘Help with finances.’ Three items with factor loading <0.4 were dropped. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients of the subscales ranged from 0.813 to 0.903. Total CNS score correlated with number of child’s needs and unmet needs. The score was also higher in families with financial and employment problems.


A new instrument was developed to assess the needs of caregivers of children with disabilities for use in the Malaysian population. The CNS showed satisfactory psychometric properties but further examination is warranted to confirm its validity.