Italian Reform Law 180/1978 established the closing down of mental hospitals and brought back psychiatry into medicine, the general hospital and primary care; this was the starting point of many relevant events in the history of psychiatry in Italy, one of which was the establishment of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (CLP). Since then, development of Italian CLP has been continuous, though heterogeneous over the national territory.
The Modena CL Service is based within a general hospital in the town area and is one of the services of the local hospital psychiatric department, also including a psychiatric ward, a day-hospital and an outpatient clinic. The CL Service provides about 1200 first consultations a year (3% of patients admitted to the hospital). It also provides an out-patient clinic for the follow-up after discharge of patients suffering from medically unexplained symptoms. Through the experience developed in Modena, one of the peculiar features of CLP in Italy is the strong background of integration between general psychiatry, CLP and psychosomatic medicine, which are neither formally nor theoretically separated in Italy. Integration is supported structurally by the existence of the Department of Mental Health, that organises psychiatric care at all levels in a certain geographical area: CLP care is coordinated to the other fields of psychiatry and to other medical Departments through this organisation. Weak points of CLP care in Italy are its very heterogeneous distribution; poor funding availability; need to improve standards of clinical practice, clinical management, training and research quality levels.