Comparison of Family Needs Assessed by Mothers, Individual Professionals, and Interdisciplinary Teams

Judith A. Garshelis, Scott R. Mcconnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Assessments of family needs made by interagency early intervention teams and individual professionals on these teams were compared to the mothers’ assessment of their own needs. Mothers (N = 43) identified an average of 5.5 needs; number of needs was not related to diagnoses or age of their child. Mothers’ most frequently cited needs were for more information on present and future services available for their child, more reading material about how other parents cope, more time for themselves, and help locating a babysitter or respite care provider. Mothers who identified fewer than 5 needs felt they had more input into team decisions than mothers who identified greater than 5 needs. Individual professional assessments of family needs (N = 99) matched only 47% of mothers’ responses. Professionals’ ability to match mothers’ responses was not related to length of time in their profession, length of time on the team, type of profession, or length of time the family had received services. Only 52% of professional and team responses (N = 51) matched, and team assessments matched mothers’ responses significantly better (M = 57%) than did individual professionals. The best team matched 74% of mothers’ responses; yet individual professionals on this team only matched 45%. Interdisciplinary teams are more accurate in assessing family needs than are individual professionals, but even teams do very poorly. A family needs survey with follow-up personal discussions with families would help ensure that services focus on those needs that are a direct concern to families and may ultimately lead to better outcomes for their children. © 1993, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-49
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Early Intervention
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993


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