A case study: Acceptance and commitment therapy for pediatric sickle cell disease

J Pediatr Psychol. 2011 May;36(4):398-408. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsq118. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


Objective: Sickle cell disease (SCD) negatively impacts patients' functioning and quality of life. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) promotes acceptance of difficult sensations, emotions, and thoughts when doing so facilitates living a values-based life. This study describes ACT for improving functioning and quality of life for an adolescent with SCD and his parents.

Methods: A 16-year old with SCD and his parents attended an eight-session ACT program. Process (adolescent psychological flexibility, parent acceptance) and outcome (adolescent social anxiety, pain, functioning, quality of life; parent distress) measures were conducted prior to and following treatment and at 3-month follow-up.

Results and conclusions: Improvements were evident, especially at follow-up. Process measures suggest adolescent psychological flexibility and parent acceptance might explain positive effects. Anecdotal comments support these findings and provide additional evidence that ACT might effectively promote functioning and quality of life in adolescents with chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome