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Creat Nurs. 2015;21(1):38-46.

Cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with sickle cell disease.



Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited autosomal recessive disorder. In the United States, most individuals with SCD are African Americans, withan incidence of 1 in 400 to 1 in 500 live births. SCD is a lifelong disorder with no known cure.


SCD causes anemia, frequent painful episodes, and reduced life ex- pectancy. The most disturbing clinical problem associated with SCD is severe pain episodes, the most common reason for hospitalization. Pharmacological interventions have been the mainstream for treatment; however, psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may complement current medical treatment, lead- ing to better coping and overall improved quality of life.


In a quasi-experimental one-group pretest-posttest study, 9 African American individuals with SCD completed 3 weekly educational sessions learning CBT methods.


Participants demonstrated increased frequency of use of CBT methods post-intervention, including diverting attention, coping self-statements, and behavioral activities, leading to better pain control. However, quality of life and role limitation did not show significant improvement.


CBT may be beneficial to those suffering from SCD when combined with conventional treatment options; however, there are still barriers to incorporating psychological interventions into practice.


CBT shows promise for individuals with chronic conditions such as SCD, but more investigation into its efficacy is needed with larger sample sizes over longer periods of time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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