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Civil commitment standards and patient mix in England/Wales, Italy, and the United States


Although England/Wales, Italy, and the United States share a common policy of deinstitutionalization, their mental health systems differ considerably. Each country's civil commitment standards define patient eligibility criteria along one of two primary dimensions--need for treatment or degree of dangerousness. These differential selection criteria result in mental health systems serving different subgroups of the total population. The criteria in England/Wales target older women; in the United States, younger men; and in Italy, a group balanced in age and sex. Implications for the current debate on civil commitment policies are considered.

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