Background There is a lack of instruments to measure the needs, stigma and informal care of people with schizophrenia that take account of sociocultural variation and patients' and formal and informal carers' opinions and experiences. Aims To develop questionnaires to measure stigma, needs and informal (non-professional) care for people with schizophrenia. Method We undertook the study in seven countries and in English, Spanish and Portuguese. We first held focus group discussions with patients, formal carers (professionals) and informal carers (family and friends) in Spain, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela to elicit the main dimensions of needs, stigma and informal care. We then held nominal group discussions about these dimensions with patients, family members and professionals in Spain, Portugal and the UK, to develop the instruments. Results Three hundred and three people participated in 46 focus groups and results were discussed in three nominal groups, each involving eight participants. Three instruments were developed in this iterative process: needs for care (46 items), stigma (38 items) and informal care (20 items). Conclusions These instruments are based on service users' and carers' views and experiences and have cross-cultural validity. They will have application in assessment of outcomes for people with schizophrenia and their families.