This paper describes how exploratory interviews were conducted with two hundred medical inpatients in order to identify specific aspects of hospital life which evoked anxiety or depression or affected patients negatively in other ways. The schedule of items used for these interviews included routine ward events and also listed implications of hospitalization, such as ‘being away from work’ which might affect the emotional state of patients, either positively or negatively. The majority of items elicited positive replies, predominantly negative replies being given to only six of sixty items. Negative responses were particularly frequent among females of not more than forty years of age. Implications of these results are discussed.