BACKGROUND: Hundreds of papers have been published on the COVID-19 pandemic, and several of them on psychological themes connected with it, but very little is so far known on how adult patients with Cystic Fibrosis (pwCFs) are coping with this dramatic event.
METHODS: An online questionnaire was developed according to the Italian validated COVID-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index (CPDI) and addressed to the general population (GP). A similar questionnaire, augmented with CF specific questions, targeted pwCFs. The two web-based surveys were accessible for some weeks during the lockdown mandated by the Italian government.
RESULTS: The CF questionnaire was completed by 712 adult pwCFs (422 females), matched for sex and age with a 1/5 ratio to GP questionnaire respondents. Mild or medium distress affected 40.2% of pwCFs and 43.9% of GP controls, severe distress 5.3% of pwCFs and 6.2% of GP controls. The level of psychological distress was not correlated with the degree of pulmonary function impairment. When symptoms of anxiety and depression, and physical manifestations were independently analyzed, the control group featured a 55% higher level of mild-moderate anxiety symptoms. Signs of psychological distress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and physical manifestations were significantly more frequent in female pwCFs compared to males, similarly to GP.
CONCLUSION: Adult pwCFs seem to have equal, and in some domains, lower levels of psychological distress than GP controls. This might be sustained by lifelong experiences in coping with the demands of their chronic disease. These results may orient future psychological interventions.