Background: Comprehensive care and advances in clinical investigations have reduced morbidity and mortality in sickle cell disease (SCD), but only a minority of children with SCD has access to comprehensive care. In Europe the majority of patients with SCD are immigrants who present barriers in accessing the health system; therefore, new evidence-based models of comprehensive care are needed to ensure that all SCD patients receive high-quality care, overcoming patient- and health system-related barriers. We wanted to verify if addressing the specific needs of immigrant patients contributes to improving adherence.
Procedures: Linguistic, cultural, social issues were considered in organizing comprehensive care in 2006. Hospital's records were used to determine access from 2006 to 2010 and to compare adherence before and after 2006.
Results: Ninety-four patients with SCD were enrolled in comprehensive care; 94% were first generation immigrants (81% African). Age at diagnosis was higher for children born abroad vs. children born in Italy (66.08 vs 25.36 months, P < 0.005). Since 2006, children were seen at least once a year, with 100% adherence to follow-up appointments. Coverage increased from 26% to 97% for flu vaccination, from 80% to 92% for pneumococcus immunization, from 27% to 100% for Transcranial Doppler (TCD) screening (P < 0.001). Emergency Department access/patient/year and inpatient admissions/patient/year decreased from 2.3 to 0.98 and from 0.30 to 0.25, respectively (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Comprehensive care can be delivered to vulnerable groups obtaining high adherence if linguistic, cultural, social issues are addressed. This model may merit assessment in other communities where immigrants represent the majority of patients.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.