Aims – To evaluate the quality of psychiatric care in Italian community-based services and the discrepancy between real practices and NICE recommendations for the treatment of schizophrenia concerning the elements common to all phases of care and the first episode of psychosis. Methods – Data concerning 14 indicators on common aspects of care in all phases and 11 indicators concerning psychosis onset, drawn from NICE Recommendations, were collected in 19 Departments of Mental Health. Results – An optimistic attitude seems to prevail in the staff in all phases of care, while remarkable discrepancies between service practice and recommendations have been found in relation to systematic assessment, availability of informative leaflets and support to relatives. Concerning the treatment of first episode, a lack of specific services and differentiated activities, and paucity of practices based on specific guidelines has been detected. However, Italian community based services proved to have a good capacity to provide help quickly to those seeking help for a psychotic onset, to maintain regular contact with them in the subsequent year, and provide pharmacological treatment reasonably in line with the scientific evidence. Instead, little specific support is provided to the relatives. Conclusions – The results show critical points concerning capacity of assessment and treatment standardization, in all aspects of care and specifically in the treatment for the first episode. Differentiation of activities specifically dedicated to the patients at their first episode should be promoted as well as strategies to support relatives in a more specific way.
Declaration of Interest: none.