There has been a recent trend to encourage routine outcome measurement and needs assessment as an aid to decision making in clinical practice and patient care. Standardised instruments have been developed which measure clinical symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia, wider health related quality of life and patients' needs. Such measures might usefully be applied to aid the recognition of psychosocial problems and to monitor the course of patients' progress over time in terms of disease severity and associated deficits in health related quality of life. They might also be used to help clinicians to make decisions about treatment and to assess subsequent therapeutic impact. Such an approach is not, however, without cost and the actual benefit of the adoption of routine outcome and needs assessment in the day-to-day care of those with schizophrenia remains unclear.