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Patterns of aftercare for psychiatric patients discharged after short inpatient treatment. An Italian collaborative study.

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  • 1Centro Psicosociale, Unità Operativa di Psichiatria Policlinico II, Milano, Italy.


This is the first of a series of papers presenting the results of an Italian collaborative study on psychiatric inpatient service utilisation. Patterns of care of a large sample of patients discharged after short inpatient treatment are discussed in the light of the changes introduced by the 1978 Mental Health Act in the Italian psychiatric care delivery system. Three closely related issues are considered: a) use of psychiatric hospitalisation, b) relationships between inpatient and community treatment before and after an admission episode, c) continuity of care. The main findings are: 1) great variability between services suggests that local factors play an important role in determining the contents of care in Italian post-reform psychiatry. 2) The relationship between inpatient and community services is complex, partial integration being the most common picture. 3) Psychiatric hospitalisation is the entry point into the care system for a sizeable group of patients. 4) Continuity of care is achieved for half the patients, mostly with diagnoses of severe mental disorders. 5) Subjects with a recent history of revolving door behaviour or a past history of mental hospital admission show the highest likelihood of remaining in community care following discharge.

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