Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Psychotropic drug utilization and audit in two Italian psychiatric services

Giovanni De Girolamoa1 c1, Paul Williams and Vincenzo Cappiello

a1 Servizi Psichiatrici, Cremona, Italy; Institute of Psychiatry, London; Postgraduate School of Psychiatry, 2nd Medical School, University of Naples, Italy


The utilization of psychotropic drugs is a topic of increasing interest. This paper describes a study of psychotropic drug use in two acute psychiatric in-patient services in Cremona, northern Italy. Almost all patients surveyed received one or more psychotropic drugs, and there was evidence of a substantial level of polypharmacy. Women patients were prescribed more psychotropic drugs than the men, while the relationship between drug prescription and psychiatric diagnosis differed between the two services. During the second phase of the study, the medical staff were aware that their prescribing was being monitored. However, this knowledge appeared to have little effect on their patterns of prescribing. The findings of Barton (1978) are thus not supported.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr G. de Girolamo, Servizi Psichiatrici, USSL 51, 26100 Cremona, Italy.