Persons with mental diseases are admitted to acute care psychiatric units during the day and night. The distribution of diagnoses given to these patients according to time of day has not previously been studied. All referrals during one year to a 27-bed facility were studied using the computerized medical records. 998 patients were referred during the year, of whom 480 were female. 47% arrived within office hours, 41% in the evening and 12% during the night. In order of frequency, patients with psychotic disorders comprised 26%, narrowly followed by the affective disorders (25%), substance abuse disorders (17%), then personality disorders (13%) and crises and anxiety disorders (12%). There is a tendency towards patients with lower diagnostic ICD-numbers (especially psychotic and affective diagnoses) arriving earlier than the other diagnostic groups. The diurnal variations in diagnoses were otherwise small.
Women with personality disorders were almost thrice as frequent as males, whereas males with substance abuse were almost twice as frequent as females. Patients above 60 years of age with non-abuse related organic disorders were mainly males (26 versus 7).
Patients > 60 years of age (N = 57) had the following frequencies of admission through the 24 hour period: 54.4%, 36.8% and 8.8% (office hours, evening, night), whereas patients below 60 years of age (N = 941) had 46.7%, 41.0% and 12.3%, respectively.