‘TRIP’ (Transforming Relapse and Instilling Prosperity) is a ward-based illness management programme that aims to decrease treatment non-compliance and relapse rate by improving the insight and health of acute psychiatric patients with schizophrenia. Eighty-one stable male acute psychiatric patients with schizophrenia were randomized to receive the TRIP programme (n = 44) or the comparison group of traditional ward occupational therapy (WOT) programme (n = 37). Participants' insights and health were assessed by the Unawareness of Mental Disorder Scale and the Hong Kong version of the Short Form-36 (SF-36) health survey, respectively. Each group was then followed up for a 12-month period. One-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that participants in the TRIP programme had significantly better insight and health than a comparison group during post-study measurement. Participants in the TRIP programme had significantly fewer re-admissions in the 12-month follow-up period than those who attended the WOT programme. In summary the TRIP programme, as led by an occupational therapist, was effective in improving insight, awareness of health and in having a lower re-admission rate than a traditional occupational therapy programme. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.