The mental-health literature highlights the importance of improved quality of life as an explicit goal of the mental-health service. Recent work indicates that assessment of subjective quality of life can be feasible and meaningful in individuals with psychiatric disorders. Although a number of studies have examined the influence of demographic variables on subjective quality of life in individuals with psychiatric disorders, there remains a paucity of studies that have made comparisons between diagnoses in inpatient populations. We used the WHOQOL-BREF to examine the influence of different psychiatric diagnoses on quality of life and investigated whether the relationship between demographic variables and quality of life was the same across diagnoses. We found that the relationship between demographic and illness variables was complex, with inconsistent effects across WHOQOL-BREF domains. Certain domains of the WHOQOL-BREF were more sensitive to the influence of psychiatric diagnosis than others. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.