Psychological complications in sickle cell disease

Br J Haematol. 2005 Jun;129(6):723-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2005.05500.x.


This review examines the evidence for some of the common psychological complications found across the life span of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), which are likely to be encountered by haematologists responsible for their medical management. Electronic searches of medical and psychological databases were conducted with a focus on three main areas: psychological coping, quality of life and neuropsychology. Psychological complications were identified in both children and adults with SCD, and included inappropriate pain coping strategies; reduced quality of life owing to restrictions in daily functioning, anxiety and depression; and neurocognitive impairment. There were wide variations in design and consistency of the studies, therefore, some caution needs to be observed in the findings. Moreover, interventional studies were lacking in some areas such as neuropsychology. Utilization of psychological interventions including patient education, cognitive behavioural therapy, and special educational support to help improve the quality of life of patients are recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Quality of Life