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Minerva Psychiatry 2023 March;64(1):49-56

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-6612.21.02275-2


language: English

The Italian psychiatric services organization during the COVID-19 pandemic

Carlo A. CAMUCCIO 1, Arianna BARBON 2, Elsa VITALE 3

1 Scientific Society of Nursing Sciences in Mental Health (SISISM), University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 2 AULSS3 Serenissima, Venice, Italy; 3 Department of Mental Health, Local Healthcare Company Bari, Modugno, Bari, Italy

BACKGROUND: The present study aims to monitor how the Italian psychiatric services changed their organizations by adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and considering the different incidence rates of the SARS-CoV-2 infection spread in the different Regions of Italy.
METHODS: An on line “ad hoc” questionnaire was created and administered to all Italian Mental Health Departments. The questionnaire included various typologies of mental health setting such as Mental Health Service (MHS), the psychiatric therapeutic community (TC) and the psychiatric hospital ward (PH); the Region of Italy belonging to each participants is considered in accordance to the incidence of new cases per 100.000 inhabitants, as published by the Higher Institute of Health in the bulletin of 20 April 2020. Moreover, 9 questions were administered to investigate any challenges in several aspects influenced by the pandemic.
RESULTS: One hundred seventeen questionnaires were received, complete in their answers, 66 of which belonged to MHSs, 27 to TCs and 24 to PHs. The answers collected according to psychiatric settings were all statistically significant (P<0.05), except for item no.8 concerning the periodic checks of healthcare workers in the search for SARS-CoV-2 infection (p=0.432). Considering the answers received according to the incidence rate of new cases of COVID-19 per 100.000 inhabitants, as reported in the Higher Institute of Health on 20 April 2020, there was no significant statistical difference among the answers for all the items of the questionnaire, with the exception of item no.5 regarding patient care procedures (P=0.004) as at least partially - if not totally - all the psychiatric settings considered changed their procedures for patient care according to the incidence rate of the pandemic.
CONCLUSIONS: The pandemic required providing greater assistance to both psychiatric patients already in treatment and to the new ones, the new accesses. On the other hand, however, the pandemic condition had strongly affected the provision of assistance mainly by reducing the provision of services, especially on the community and thus giving priority to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

KEY WORDS: COVID-19; Mental health services; Hospitals, psychiatric; Therapeutic community

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