The relationship between frequency and severity of vaso-occlusive crises and health-related quality of life and work productivity in adults with sickle cell disease

Qual Life Res. 2020 Jun;29(6):1533-1547. doi: 10.1007/s11136-019-02412-5. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Purpose: Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) may experience sickle cell-related pain crises, also referred to as vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), which are a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality. The study explored how VOC frequency and severity impacts health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and work productivity.

Methods: Three hundred and three adults with SCD who completed an online survey were included in the analysis. Patients answered questions regarding their experience with SCD and VOCs, and completed the Adult Sickle Cell Quality of Life Measurement Information System (ASCQ-Me) and the Workplace Productivity and Activity Impairment: Specific Health Problem (WPAI:SHP). Differences in ASCQ-Me and WPAI:SHP domains were assessed according to VOC frequency and severity.

Results: Nearly half of the patient sample (47.2%) experienced ≥ 4 VOCs in the past 12 months. The most commonly reported barriers to receiving care for SCD included discrimination by or trouble trusting healthcare professionals (39.6%, 33.3%, respectively), limited access to treatment centers (38.9%), and difficulty affording services (29.4%). Patients with more frequent VOCs reported greater impacts on emotion, social functioning, stiffness, sleep and pain, and greater absenteeism, overall productivity loss, and activity impairment than patients with less frequent VOCs (P < 0.05). Significant impacts on HRQoL and work productivity were also observed when stratifying by VOC severity (P < 0.05 for all ASCQ-Me and WPAI domains, except for presenteeism).

Conclusions: Results from the survey indicated that patients with SCD who had more frequent or severe VOCs experienced deficits in multiple domains of HRQoL and work productivity. Future research should examine the longitudinal relationship between these outcomes.

Keywords: Health-related quality of life; Sickle cell disease; Vaso-occlusive crises; Work productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Performance / standards*