Italian psychiatric reform 1978: milestones for Italy and Europe in 2010?

  • Roger PychaEmail author
  • Giancarlo Giupponi
  • Josef Schwitzer
  • Dearbhla Duffy
  • Andreas Conca
Original Paper


The Italian psychiatric reform of 1978 was one of the most radical attempts in history to abolish the practise of custodial psychiatry using legislation. The work of the charismatic reformer Franco Basaglia had four main objectives, which have taken more than 30 years to achieve. Although the creation of outpatient mental health centres and a reduction in involuntary commitments occurred rapidly, the expensive development of small acute psychiatric departments in general hospitals as an alternative to psychiatric hospitals was implemented very slowly. According to a national survey by the Italian Ministry of Health, in 2001, there were a total of 9,300 acute beds for all of Italy, of which as many as 4,000 were in private facilities. With 1.72 acute beds per 10,000 inhabitants, Italy has one of the lowest figures in Europe of psychiatric beds. However, Italy’s apparent and often praised low bed requirement places a large burden on families. The implementation of the reform process was most delayed and occurred at its worst in South Tyrol, in North Italy. In an effort to achieve a modern and progressive community-based psychiatric service, in particular one with more specialised services, mental health providers in this region have examined German, Austrian and Swiss models of psychiatric practice.


Italian psychiatric reform Community psychiatry Family burden Psychiatric beds Democratic psychiatry 


Conflict of interest

R Pycha, J. Schwitzer, D. Duffy, G. Giupponi declare that they have no conflict of interest. A. Conca has served as a consultant for Lilly, BMS, Pfizer and on the speakers’ bureau of Lilly, BMS, Astra Zeneca, Lundbeck, Italfarma and Janssen. He declares that he has no conflict of interest with this publication.

This supplement was not sponsored by outside commercial interests. It was funded by the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Pycha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giancarlo Giupponi
    • 2
  • Josef Schwitzer
    • 3
  • Dearbhla Duffy
    • 2
  • Andreas Conca
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychiatric Service of Bruneck (BZ)Brunico/BruneckItaly
  2. 2.Psychiatric Service of BozenBolzano/BozenItaly
  3. 3.Psychiatric Service of BrixenBressanone/BrixenItaly

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