In the broadest sense of the word, need refers to a psychological feature that motivates an organism toward action and gives purpose and direction to behavior. It is not surprising, therefore, that the concept has a number of different meanings in various fields. In health care, for example, there are many different definitions of need and a number of different ways in which needs can be assessed.
A common way in which people define need is as a physiological or psychological requirement for the survival of an individual. These are often called basic needs and they can range from the need for food and shelter to the need for social interaction and companionship. Wants, on the other hand, are desires for things that do not challenge survival or lead to a loss of well-being if they are not satisfied. Moreover, wants are often viewed as non-required.
Another way in which need is defined is as an underlying force that motivates a person to achieve a goal. This can be seen in terms of the ‘hierarchy of needs’ developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow, which defines a series of motivational factors that individuals need to satisfy as they advance in life.
In the context of healthcare, need has also been viewed as a factor that contributes to the choice between available services. One widely used definition of need in this field focuses on the need for treatment that can be expected to improve a person’s quality of life, and is considered cost-effective. However, this approach can be perceived as being innovation-disoriented since it limits population needs to services that are already available, ignoring the potential benefits of new technologies.
Ultimately, the definition of need is a subjective matter that varies from person to person and may change at different stages in life. For example, a family’s need for a large house may change to the need for reliable transportation as their children grow up and leave home. Similarly, a luxury item that is expensive to purchase now might become a need in the future if it leads to improved function and longevity.
It is important to distinguish between needs and wants when establishing financial goals. Whether it is for personal or business budgeting, it’s essential to determine the difference between the two and to only spend money on items that meet true needs. In addition, it is helpful to review expenses regularly to see if there are any areas where costs can be reduced by moving items from ‘wants’ to ‘needs’. This is especially true for long-term investments such as buying a house, car or electronics. Do I really need to spend that much money on a stereo system, for example, when I could afford to buy a more affordable and less-expensive DVD player?