Psychological distress imposed by the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak particularly affects patients with pre-existing medical conditions, and the progression of their diseases. Patients who fail to keep scheduled medical appointments experience a negative impact on care. The aim of this study is to investigate the psychosocial factors contributing to the cancellation of medical appointments during the pandemic by patients with pre-existing health conditions. Data were collected in eleven Italian hospitals during the last week of lockdown, and one month later. In order to assess the emotional impact of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and the subject's degree of psychological flexibility, we developed an ad hoc questionnaire (ImpACT), referring to the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) model. The Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) and the Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire (CFQ) were also used. Pervasive dysfunctional use of experiential avoidance behaviours (used with the function to avoid thought, emotions, sensations), feelings of loneliness and high post-traumatic stress scores were found to correlate with the fear of COVID-19, increasing the likelihood of cancelling medical appointments. Responding promptly to the information and psychological needs of patients who cancel medical appointments can have positive effects in terms of psychological and physical health.
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