We conducted a postal questionnaire survey of all psychiatric day hospitals in England to identify the range of aims, organisational structure and content of service provision.
Of 102 identified day hospitals, 77% responded to the questionnaire. The findings confirmed that there is great heterogeneity in English day hospital service provision. The function or aim with the highest mean rating was ‘providing an alternative to in-patient care’, with 66% of day hospitals giving this a rating of great or greatest importance. However, the majority of respondents prioritised multiple roles, with many day hospitals aiming to provide acute and chronic care concurrently.
The label ‘day hospital’ covers a considerable range of community psychiatric services. The heterogeneity of service provision in existing day hospitals could lead to difficulties in generalising research findings on day hospital efficacy.