This is a study of factors causing distress, particularly anxiety and depression, among medical ward patients. A longitudinal design was used to trace patients' emotional responses throughout their stay in hospital. Personality assessment, illness classification, social status, sex and age variables were examined to establish associations between events and the emotional reactions. A trait measure of emotionality was shown to have a strong association with anxiety and depression responses in this sample. This test is thought to be of use in identifying patients prone to high levels of these emotions while in hospital.