The use and effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine for pain in sickle cell anemia

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Nov;19(4):184-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Pain is the clinical hallmark for sickle cell disease (SCD). The objective of this study was to survey the extent and effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use for pain control among adults with SCD. Of a total of 227 African-American adults with SCD, 208 (92%) admitted to using at least one type of CAM. The three most common types of CAM were prayer (61%), relaxation technique (44%), and massage (35%). Multiple logistic regression showed that marital status was associated with use of relaxation techniques (p = 0.044), and age between 18 and 24 years and at least a high school level of education were associated with use of prayer (p = 0.008 and p = 0.004 respectively). Our study showed that CAM use is common among adult patients with SCD. Further well designed prospective studies are needed to help develop best practices that emphasize an optimized balance of conventional and evidence based CAM therapies.

Keywords: Alternative medicine; Complementary; Sickle.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Black or African American
  • Educational Status
  • Faith Healing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Massage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain* / etiology
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Relaxation Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult