Traumatic Exposure History as a Risk Factor for Chronic Pain in Adult Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

Health Soc Work. 2016 Feb;41(1):42-50. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlv085.


This article describes the impact of the integration of a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with expertise in behavioral health on identification of risk factors for chronic pain in a cohort of adults with sickle cell disease. Authors conducted a retrospective chart review of all visits to the adult sickle cell center during the first six months of LCSW integration. Demographics, clinical history, and LCSW notes were reviewed. Overall, 71 patients were introduced to the LCSW; 55 percent of them had chronic pain. Patients with chronic pain were older, used opioids daily, took hydroxyurea, reported higher daily pain scores, and underwent more acute care visits and hospitalizations for pain with longer stays. Fifty-eight (81 percent) patients requested concrete social work services such as transportation and housing. Thirty-two patients (55 percent) expressed a desire for mental health counseling while receiving concrete services. Twenty-two (69 percent) of these patients self-disclosed at least one traumatic experience. In fact, a statistically significant relationship between chronic pain and a history of trauma was identified (p = 0.001). Results suggest that sickle cell patients should receive clinical social work services to assess for traumatic exposures that may influence chronic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Management / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Work / organization & administration
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid