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The aim of this study is to elucidate the phenomenon of the caring need in the life-world of the patient and, on the basis of this, to compare patients' perceived caring needs with the six areas of need contained in a new instrument for patient classification, the Oulu Patient Classification (OPC). A total of 75 patients were interviewed and the data were analysed by means of a phenomenological-hermeneutical method. Seventeen perceived caring needs emerged from the process of interpretation. The patients experienced themselves as an indivisible unit that contained existential/spiritual needs and desires. The patients' caring needs are constituted from their problems, needs and desires, where human desire for life, love and meaningfulness may, express itself as bodily, psychical and existential/spiritual needs. A comparison between the patients' perceived caring needs and the OPC shows that patients' existential/spiritual needs do not emerge clearly enough and that the instrument should be supplemented by a caring perspective.