The closing of forensic psychiatric hospitals in Italy: Determinants, current status and future perspectives. A scoping review

Claudio Di Lorito, Luca Castelletti, Ilaria Lega, Barbara Gualco, Franco Scarpa, Birgit Vӧllm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction Italy is the only country in the world to have closed forensic psychiatric hospitals and converted to fully-residential services. The international interest around this reform has not been matched by research. This scoping review aims to report the determinants of the reform, the most updated information on how the system operates, its benefits and its challenges. We further aim to discuss the implications for policy, research and practice. Methods 1. Selection of relevant sources through electronic search on four databases, Google, relevant printed materials and personal communication with practitioners currently working in REMS. 2. Study quality monitoring. 3. Data extraction onto NVivo 4. Data synthesis through content analysis. Results 43 papers were selected for inclusion in our review. Two main themes were identified: 1. Historical chronology of the closure of forensic psychiatric hospitals; 2. The current model of residential forensic psychiatric care. Conclusions The closing down of Italian forensic psychiatric hospitals represented a fundamental step for human rights. Further work is required to improve the current service, including potential reforming of the penal code, improved referral/admission processes and consistent monitoring to reduce service inequality across regions. Further research is crucial to test the effectiveness of the Italian model of care against traditional ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Italy
  • Mentally-ill offenders
  • Ospedali Psichiatrici Giudiziari (OPG)
  • Residenze per l'Esecuzione delle Misure di Sicurezza (REMS)
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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