Nationwide Survey of Healthcare Services for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Italy

Project Title: Nationwide Survey of Healthcare Services for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Italy

Duration of the project: From 2014-to 2017


Main Topic

Neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability represent an increasing mental health burden with considerable impact and costs to the patients, their families and wider society. In the Italian National Health System (INHS), neurodevelopmental disorders are in charge of the specific Child and Adolescent Mental Health units (CAMHs). ASD, among neurodevelopmental disorders, is a lifelong multifaceted condition hence emphasizing the need of tailoring lifespan complex services for subjects and their families. In Italy, recent efforts have been made to harmonize and promote the appropriateness of interventions for ASD people. At present, scattered information on services for people with ASD is available worldwide and both families and professionals involved in ASD care emphasise the lack of adequate service considering both quantitative and qualitative standards



The aim of this study was to survey the presence and distribution of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHs) in Italy. It aimed also to verify if geographical determinants could affect CAMH units’ availability and capacity, devoting a specific focus on their capacity to provide care to ASD patients.


Type of study

Survey. CAMHs based on local health services, public and university hospitals, and care/research institutions, as well as private (INHS-accredited) units were invited to participate to the survey, filling in a questionnaire assessing relevant dimensions for public health, namely overall structural capacity and ASD care processes.


Expected results

Heterogeneity in CAMHs provision was found among geographical macro-areas. Specifically for ASD care, diagnosis and intervention strategies resulted to be unevenly distributed across the Italian territory. Furthermore, the level of service integration throughout transition into adulthood resulted to be low, jeopardizing continuity of care for adults with ASD. In conclusions, results from this survey contribute to increase the knowledge on services provided in Italy to people with ASD, and suggest potential targets to improve ASD management and to reduce inequality. The final aim is to ensure that the conditions are in place to achieve an equal and adequate capacity to respond to the needs of individuals affected and their families over time and across the whole country.


Responsible of the project: Aldina Venerosi (

Departement/Center: Centro di riferimento per le Scienze comportamentali e la Salute mentale (SCIC)