Pain control in sickle cell disease patients: use of complementary and alternative medicine

Pain Med. 2014 Feb;15(2):241-6. doi: 10.1111/pme.12292.


Objective: To examine the factors associated with the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as reported by patients attending an adult sickle cell clinic at a tertiary institution.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: This study was conducted in a university tertiary care adult sickle cell clinic.

Subjects: Adult sickle cell patients.

Method: Following Institutional Review Board approval, a questionnaire was administered to patients in a sickle cell clinic to examine their use of CAM for managing pain at home and while admitted to the hospital.

Results: Of the 227 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 92% experienced pain lasting from 6 months to more than 2 years. Two hundred and eight (91.6%) indicated that they have used CAM within the last 6 months to control pain. The frequency of CAMs use was higher among females, singles, those with more education, and higher household income.

Conclusions: This study shows that a substantial majority of sickle cell patients live with pain on a regular basis and that there is substantial CAM use in the adult Sickle cell disease population. Being female and having a high school or higher education were significantly correlated with the use of CAM in sickle cell patients. A variety of CAM therapies are used, with the most common being prayer.

Keywords: Chronic Pain; Complementary Alternative Methods; Coping with Pain; Sickle Cell Disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Young Adult