Introduction. Infertility has an impact on the psychophysical health of individuals and couples, and its treatment through an assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a very exacting experience. The aim of this study was to explore the characteristics of psychological counselling services in Italian ART centres through a specially designed questionnaire administered to the physicians in charge of the centres.
Methods. The questionnaire online was sent to 306 ART authorized centres. It consisted
of 26 questions. A total of 15 were single-selection questions, 5 were multiple-choice and
the remaining 6 were open-ended.
Results. 113 (37%) ART centres responded to the questionnaire. All the ART centres
offered psychological counselling, but only in 47% of them the psychologist is a permanent
staff member. In 69% of the centres, 10 to 20% of couples use the psychological
Discussion. Although the Italian Guidelines under Law 40/2004 stress the need to provide
couples with psychological support and counselling and the literature highlights the efficacy of such interventions, the results of our study show that psychological counselling services are not yet fully operational in Italian ART centres or integrated into their day-to-day medical practice.
Conclusion. In conclusion, the results show that psychological services in Italian ART centres are not yet fully operational and integrated in the ART procedure. All of this highlights the importance of further investigations with the aim to shared information to use to establish common protocols for psychological interventions in ART centres.