Informal care is defined as "a non-market composite commodity consisting of heterogeneous parts produced by one or more members of the social environment" . Hospitalized patients are frequently facing problems with their self-care and as a result they need assistance . In Greek hospitals, the nursing staff assists patients; however, the provision of help by in-hospital informal caregivers is a common phenomenon . Family has a central role in maintaining the health status and providing informal health care, and is critical in helping its members to manage with illness [4, 5], as well as in assisting in the recovery and rehabilitation process [5–7]. As stated in the literature, family members usually spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital with their hospitalized relatives , and these family members have identifiable needs for care .
Need is defined as "an internal tension resulting from a change in some state of affairs. This tension is manifested in goal-oriented behavior, which will continue until the tension is relieved and the need is satisfied" [10, 11]. The definition of family needs as Leske stated is "a requirement that, if unmet, produces distress" .
Family members frequently visit their relatives at the hospital [2, 3]. The illness effects the rest of the members and causes changes in the life of the entire family . Various feelings and emotions are experienced, including helplessness, powerlessness, stress, worry, fear, and anxiety . The informational and educational needs of family members were about the progress of patient health, treatment, nursing care and general care that is provided in the hospital .
Earlier studies in Greece support that families participate in the care of their hospitalized relatives providing assistance with personal hygiene, feeding, making beds, toileting, bathing, and helping taking oral medications [3, 14, 15]. In Greece the prevalence of in-hospital informal care is very high. This phenomenon started in the beginning of the 1980s, with the introduction of an open visiting hours policy . Family members were forced, unofficially, to stay at patients' bedsides for many hours to assist with their care . According to the Greek nursing literature this phenomenon is highly correlated with the nursing staff shortage and specific cultural influences on care provision patterns [3, 14, 15]. Several studies assessing informal caregivers' informational and education needs [16–18] have been published in the nursing literature. Richter and Peu  argue that the informal caregivers' education needs are mostly concentrated on health promotion and disease prevention activities, while Beaver and Witham  stressed that the priority in informational needs for caregivers of women treated for breast cancer are related to cure, spread of disease, and treatment. Kosco and Warren  reported that informational needs pertaining to patients' conditions and to the procedures being performed continue to be a major priority for families. A recent study showed that most of the informal caregivers of persons with dementia reported that they need additional information and advice .
Many studies have examined nurses' and family members' perceptions concerning the family's or significant others' needs, especially in critically ill patients or in intensive care units, [21–24] as well as in other patient groups [25, 26]. Some studies have documented that family members gave higher scores to the questions that concerned their needs than the nurses themselves [23, 24]. However, a limitation of the studies that assessed the needs of informal caregivers was their small samples [16, 17, 22]. Some studies have used specific scales to measure the perceptions of family's care giving and nurses [17, 22, 24] and others have both a qualitative and a quantitative design [16, 18].
Fewer studies have examined the factors that influence families' and nurses' perceptions of family needs [27–29]. It has been reported that age, sex, socioeconomic status and educational level of family members do not affect their informational needs [27, 28]. Verhaeghe et al.  reported that women in general, with the exception of the need for information, report more needs than men, that more-educated people have fewer needs than the less-educated, and that the need for support is affected by educational status. The relationships between the factors that influence the perceptions have not been examined systematically.
Although the body of evidence is growing regarding the perceptions of informal caregivers and nurses concerning caregivers' needs, little is known about this issue in Greece. Despite an increasing interest for in-hospital informal care among Greek nurses, informal in-hospital caregivers' informational and educational needs are often underestimated and not recognized by nurses, although these are often informally reported.
The objective of this study was to assess the nursing staff's and informal caregivers' perceptions about the health education and informational needs of in hospital informal caregivers. The specific aims of the study were the following:
a) to compare nurses' and family members' perceptions about the caregivers health education needs,
b) to compare nurses' and family members' perceptions about the caregivers informational needs, and
c) to determine what factors influence the nurses' and family members' perceptions about the caregivers health education and informational needs.