You are visiting the 2019 PCC4U website. Throughout 2020 there will be two active PCC4U sites. Please check with your education provider that you are on the correct site. For access to the 2020 PCC4U site, go to



Print this page

Learning modules

Activity 5: Assessing people's needs

To provide health care that's relevant to community needs, it is important to understand the experiences, preferences and care requirements for people with life-limiting illnesses.

People with advanced cancer and other life-limiting illnesses may experience a variety of needs that can vary in complexity and severity during the illness trajectory.

Common needs and preferences for people with life-limiting illnesses include:

  • management of physical symptoms such as pain, weakness, fatigue and dyspnoea
  • management of psychological symptoms
  • need for social support
  • culturally specific needs related to language problems and information disclosure preferences
  • need for information about treatment, diagnosis or prognosis
  • spiritual and existential concerns including hope, loss of meaning and uncertainty
  • financial concerns such as loss of income and medical costs
  • legal concerns such as preferences for end-of-life care and advanced care directives. [1] 

A range of assessment tools are available to assist health professionals to undertake a needs assessment.

Thinking points


1. Waller, A., Girgis, A., Currow, D., Lecathelinais, C. (2008). Development and pilot testing of the Palliative Care Needs Assessment Tool (PC-NAT).Palliative Medicine, 22(8), 956-964.