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Italian mental health care in the 1978 post reform era : the impact on relatives

Samele, Chiara (1993) Italian mental health care in the 1978 post reform era : the impact on relatives. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94634) (KAR id:94634)

Language: English

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A radical movement in psychiatry effectively changed the face of Italian mental health care when in 1978 law 180 was passed. For the first time this introduced systematic deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill on a scale that generated international interest. Italy however, was ill prepared to receive the mentally ill into the community at the rapidity with which mental hospital numbers were being reduced. Little thought had been given to what this might imply. Some feared the repercussions would be devastating, others were encouraged by the successes of previous community care initiatives and the impetus to spread them nationally. Families of the mentally ill were to form one of the major cornerstones for the new reform to function. The reliance on relatives to provide care was not foreseen by policy makers. The recognition of informal carers in Britain by feminist academics pointed to he heavy burden placed by community care policies on women. Understanding the extent of impact on relatives caring for someone diagnosed mentally ill was a parallel theme for academics in clinical psychology and psychiatry. The present study sought to address some of these issues: community mental health care after the 1978 reform, the impact of care on relatives and what this signified for women. South Verona was the location chosen for the study. The success there in implementing community mental health services was well in tune with what the originators of the reform sought to achieve. Amongst the relatives interviewed remarkably little material or objective impact was found. Favourable economic and cultural factors accounted for the comparatively minimal impact materially. There was however, a notable degree of psychological or subjective impact on relatives. Most relatives were satisfied with community psychiatric services received by patients, but some were unhappy with the way staff perceived them. Some policy implications and service recommendations are considered in the final sections.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94634
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Health services & community care services
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV3008 People with mental disabilities
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2023 11:24 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2023 09:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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