In Italy, as in many countries, relatives are closely involved in caring for persons with physical and mental disorders. The Italian scenario lends itself to routine involvement of family members in psychiatric treatment because, despite becoming smaller and smaller, Italian families keep close ties, and men and women do not leave the parental home until relatively late. The authors describe the impact of international family psychosocial research on the Italian mental health services (MHSs) and the main psychosocial interventions currently in use, including family psychoeducational interventions and the "Milan family therapy approach." They also highlight the contribution Italian researchers have given to the study of important variables in integrated mental disorder care, such as family burden of care, relatives' attitudes, family functioning, and satisfaction with the MHSs. Finally, they discuss the difficulties of implementing and disseminating family interventions within the Italian MHS, despite the growing evidence of their effectiveness.
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