Using qualitative and quantitative strategies to evaluate knowledge and perceptions about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait

J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 May;98(5):704-10.


Objectives: To evaluate knowledge, perceptions and the effectiveness of different sources of information about sickle cell trait (SCT) and sickle cell disease (SCD); to determine individual knowledge of SCT status.

Methods: 28 individuals participated in three focus groups (healthcare providers, people affected by SCD or SCT, and community members). Surveyors interviewed 282 respondents within their neighborhoods.

Results: Common themes across the focus groups included the limited general awareness of SCD and SCT, the emphasis on the benign nature of SCT rather than on future implications, and the need for public health education campaigns about SCD and SCT involving media strategies. The majority of community survey respondents (n = 243, 86.2%) had correct general knowledge about the genetic basis and severity of SCD, but only 16% (n = 45) knew their own trait status. When respondents had received information about SCD from friends and acquaintances, they were three times more likely to know their SCT status, compared with respondents who had not received information from a personal source (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Despite a screening history in the 1970s fraught with controversy, sickle cell disease management and detection can be a model for the empowerment of communities in making informed decisions about theirs and their families' futures, given the burgeoning of genetic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / education
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / ethnology*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • California
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Clinical Competence
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sickle Cell Trait