Objective: The northern-Italian region of Piedmont has a total population of 4.3 million. The regional territory is currently divided into 22 local health services, each serving a population not exceeding 300 000 and incorporating a Department of Mental Health. The organization of psychiatric assistance can be described as relatively stable and conforms with the standards imposed by national regulations. Drawing upon previous research experience, and with the support of the relevant regional authorities, our survey implements the methodology developed by the EPCAT team and will eventually embrace about 80% of all local health service areas in this region.
Methods: The survey was preceded by a number of preliminary steps including the training of four researchers, inter-rater reliability testing (particularly for the International Classification of Mental Health Care), and the adjustment of the methodology developed by the EPCAT team to facilitate understanding and use of the instrumentation by the psychiatric professionals involved in the data collection.
Results: This paper summarizes data on the structure and components of the mental health service in three areas of Piedmont, with special reference to structures funded by the National Health System.
Conclusion: Overlooking the imbalances affecting both the resources available for different populations, and the operational profiles of psychiatric agencies of the same type, our data allow an assessment of the descriptive and comparative capabilities of the proposed methodology.