The health improvement profile (HIP) can be a valuable tool in supporting the mental health nurse (MHN) to identify the physical health needs of people with serious mental illness (SMI) BackgroundThe physical health needs of people with SMI are a cause of growing concern for clinicians. People with SMI have higher morbidity and mortality rates of cardiovascular disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, specific cancers and respiratory diseases than the general population. It has been estimated that the life expectancy of people with SMI is 20% lower than in the general population. In Ireland, mental illness is one of the leading causes of morbidity and approximately 50% of people with SMI have a co-morbid physical condition. Metabolic disorders are very common in this population, exceeding 50% in some studies. The HIP tool has been identified to address the inequalities of physical health care experienced by people with SMI. The HIP has 27 items and the male and female versions are slightly different. The HIP is undertaken annually and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, drawing information from multiple sources. This specific tool will enable MHNs to identify the physical health needs of the SMI patients and direct them towards the evidence-based interventions. Aims and ObjectivesThe aim of this paper is to review how the MHN can use HIP to address the physical health needs of people with SMI. Search MethodologyA systematic search of the following databases was conducted for the period of January 2000 to January 2011: Medline, EMBASE, Psychlit, CINAHL, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Google scholar. Grey literature and reference lists were also sourced. Conclusions and implicationsThe general consensus is that the MHN is in the prime position to positively effect the physical health of people with SMI. The use of the HIP tool can assist the MHN in the overall identification of the physical health needs and improve clinical outcomes for this client group.