Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is associated with serious comorbidities resulting in a shortened lifespan, and many clients suffer from frequent pain episodes. However, others successfully manage their disease in the outpatient setting without the need for frequent health care utilization. The purpose of this project was to describe specific strategies used by adult clients with sickle cell disease to achieve optimal physical health.
Method: A Best Self-management Practices workshop was held in conjunction with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America meeting. A panel discussion was organized; adult clients were recruited for participation. The workshop was divided into 3 topics: complementary and alternative medicine, psychosocial issues, and work/education/training. Panel discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using the constant comparative method.
Results: Seven adult patients with sickle cell disease and 1 social worker participated. The following themes emerged: self-awareness, emotional support, career selection and success factors, nutrition, advocacy, knowledge, physical, and complementary and alternative medicine. Self-awareness was the most reported strategy with emphasis on journaling and body awareness. Emotional support included spiritual support, friends, family, professional counseling, and spiritual support. A variety of suggestions were discussed related to the other themes. All participants used many strategies daily to maintain optimal health.