Unaccompanied Clinic Visits: Practical Consequences of a Stressor Imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Journal of Patient Experience
PMID: 34926802
PMCID: PMC8679044
DOI: 10.1177/23743735211065264

Authors: Paris G. Tranos1, Penelope Burle de Politis1, Despoina Vasileiou1, Miltiadis Balidis1, Evangelos Lokovitis1, Solon Asteriades1, Vasilis Vasileiades1, Panos Stavrakas2, Spyridon Koronis1

1Ophthalmica Eye Institute, Thessaloniki, Greece.
2University of Patras Medical School, Patras, Greece.


One of the restrictive measures of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic control is the prohibition of accompanied clinic visits. The specific features of ophthalmological patients imply different degrees of dependency that directly affect their response to such measures. This study aims to assess the effects of unaccompanied medical appointments on outpatients’ stress levels and their retention of medical advice. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted at a large ophthalmic clinic in northern Greece during September 2020. Suitable subjects were asked to self-administer a 7-item questionnaire addressing their subjective perception of stress and their ability to fully understand and remember their doctor’s instructions, given the fact that they would be alone during the consultation. The analysis was based on 200 patients who completed the survey. Sixty-three patients (31.5%) reported that unaccompanied clinic visits increased their stress, with a median value of 7.5 (mean 6.77 ± .2.7) on a scale from 1 to 10. A large number of the patients (30%) claimed it was difficult to remember the doctor’s comments or instructions, and 24.6% indicated that they would not fully understand them if they were to attend the clinic unaccompanied. A marked impact on women and on the elderly (up to threefold) over 70 years of age was identified. This is the first study specifically addressing practical repercussions of unaccompanied clinic visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. A negative effect on patients’ emotional status and on counseling effectiveness was demonstrated. Female gender and advanced age were found to be determinants of the highest vulnerability.

Keywords: COVID-19; clinic visits; impact; ophthalmology; psychological distress; stress.

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Source: Pubmed