Demand for the development of health services that are responsive to the views of users has led to a growing interest in the measurement of patient satisfaction. Initial reluctance to seek the views of users of mental health services focused on a debate about whether or not mentally disordered patients were able to make 'valid' comments about their treatment. More recently the development of questionnaires that claim to 'reliably measure' the views of patients have coincided with a greater acceptance of the role that such studies can play. However, it is argued that the use of these quantitative and often simplistic methods underestimate the dissatisfaction of many patients. Further exploration of the differing expectations of users and providers of services and a degree of willingness in both parties to change is required if services are to be developed that better meet the needs of patients.