In recent years there has been a growing recognition in Western healthcare systems of the importance of considering preferences of patients and the public in tailoring health services and treatment plans, The active collaboration between doctor and patient has recently been encouraged through the shared decision-making model. Aim of the present contribution is to describe the current state of patient and public participation in healthcare in Italy. First, we will briefly outline the organization of the Italian National Health Service; second, we will describe the governmental and institutional initiatives regarding participation; third, some examples of associations and initiatives promoting patient participation will be provided; forth, we will report on research projects on patient participation published in peer-reviewed journals; and finally, we will provide some examples on training activities promoting patient participation. The Italian National Health Plan and many regional and local health authorities in Italy explicitly recognize the importance of patient/citizen participation in healthcare decisions at the macro, meso and micro level of decision-making. However, application of a shared model is still at an early stage in Italy. The reported experiences have yielded positive results and have shown that particular attention should be dedicated to more disadvantaged subgroups of the population, involving patient organisations, enhancing patient/citizen knowledge and adopting approaches that take the specific context into account.
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