The nursing process is a philosophy of individualized patient care, which states that all care sbould be planned on thebasis of a nursing evaluation of patients’ problems The first stage of the nursing process is assessment, which for good planning requires more information about patients than is usually collected In this study, in a psychiatric setting, an exploratory first phase was camed out to investigate whether the current admission assessment procedure assisted systematic careplanning The results revealed that nurses were dissatisfied with the admission assessment procedure, although half of them had received no training in the patient-centred approach During phase 2 of the study a structured assessment form was introduced into two wards in separate hospitals for a period of 3 months In order to assess the form's usefulness in identifyingpatients’ nursing needs, and its acceptability to patients, an evaluative third phase was undertaken Respondents recorded satisfaction with the structured form in practice, whilst analysis of careplan statements suggested that assessment had improved The patients interviewed found the questions acceptable and viewed the assessment as a valued opportunity to talk to their nurse