Adherence and Quality of Life in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease: A Pilot Mobile Health Intervention

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Children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD) are at high risk for medical complications, neuropsychological sequelae, and lower overall quality of life. One target of intervention that can positively impact these outcomes is treatment adherence. Despite the known benefits of treatment adherence for health outcomes, children with SCD encounter several barriers that result in low overall levels of adherence and reduction of treatment benefits. Furthermore, little is known regarding the relationship between adherence and quality of life for this pediatric population. As such, two studies were conducted in order to (a) examine the relationship between treatment adherence and quality of life among youth with SCD, and (b) examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a novel mobile health intervention to improve adherence among youth with SCD. For the first study, 46 children and adolescents with SCD and a caregiver were recruited. Results indicated that participants with good adherence had significantly higher parent-reported quality of life than participants with poor adherence. In contrast, based on child self-report, participants did not differ across quality of life domains. Subsequently, 43 participants were recruited to participate in the pilot intervention study, the Intensive Training Program (ITP). The intervention was conducted in two phases: Phase I recruited participants receiving iron chelation therapy to reduce the risk of iron overload associated with chronic red blood transfusions (n=11); Phase II broadened the scope of participants to those prescribed hydroxyurea (HU; n=32), a once daily oral medication. Results indicated that patients and their caregivers endorsed high levels of acceptance, ease of use, and satisfaction with mobile health technology. In addition, participants encountered several technological issues that limited access and resulted in poor compliance with the ITP for some participants early on in the study. Despite this, participants demonstrated significant increases in medication possession ratio (MPR) based on pharmacy refill as well as sustained improvements in disease knowledge. Adherent participants demonstrated significant decreases in outcomes related to caregiver burden as well as significantly lower pain impact when compared to non-adherent youth. In addition, children who were adherent reported quality of life and overall SCD-related functioning at a clinically-significant higher level when compared to those who were non-adherent. Implications for future research and application to clinical care are discussed.





Anderson, Lindsay Marie (2017). Adherence and Quality of Life in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease: A Pilot Mobile Health Intervention. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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