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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

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Carer well-being

How can we assess the well-being of carers? What are their support needs?

There are an estimated 5 million carers in England and Wales alone. But caring can have a major impact on a person’s health and well-being. The Royal College of Psychiatrists produced a robust questionnaire for assessing carers’ well-being, as well as identifying any support needs they might have.



Detailed information


Title: Development and Validation of the Carer Well-Being and Support (CWS) Questionnaire

Funded from 2006 to 2008 by the National Co-ordinating Centre for the Service Delivery and Organisation Programme (NCCSDO). Publications ongoing.



Read the report




Background to the study


  • The Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme’s review of outcomes tools for carers for people with mental health problems and dementia recommended one instrument, the Carers’ and Users’ Expectations of Services – Carers’ Version (CUES-C), for further development and psychometric evaluation.
  • The SDO commissioned the Royal College of Psychiatrists to lead this work, working in collaboration with Rethink, the Alzheimer’s Society and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.




  • To review and revise CUES-C to produce a modified instrument that measures all important aspects of the experience of carers of people with severe mental health problems or dementia.
  • To evaluate the psychometric properties of the revised version of CUES-C in two-stage field testing.




  • Over three main study phases we deconstructed the original CUES-C and developed and tested a new instrument, called the Carer Well-Being and Support Questionnaire (CWS).
  • The final version of the questionnaire was evaluated in a sample of 361 carers, recruited via the NHS, Rethink and Alzheimer’s Society services and training courses for carers.


Results & future work


  • The CWS shows good evidence for validity and reliability.
  • Future research and development will include adapting the CWS for use with other carer groups and evaluating the feasibility of using the CWS for the routine assessment of needs and outcomes.




For further information and to receive a copy of the Carer Well-Being and Support Questionnaire (CWS) please email Alan Quirk at






Health Services Research, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 4th Floor Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA    





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