Psychological symptom screening in an adult sickle cell disease clinic and predictors of treatment follow up

Psychol Health Med. 2020 Dec;25(10):1192-1200. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2020.1736313. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Absence of formal and systematic screening for mood and anxiety disorders among patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) can result in under-recognized psychological problems. This study examined the prevalence of psychological symptoms using a systematic screening process. Patients with SCD completed four self-report screening tools for measurement of depressive and anxiety symptoms, self-efficacy, and pain. The goal was to detect patients with psychological symptoms and identify predictors of follow-up treatment attendance. A total of 336 adult patients (57% female, mean age 33 years) completed validated screening instruments for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Patients recommended for mental health follow-up included higher proportions of women. Patients who accepted the mental health follow up had higher levels of education compared to groups that did not accept nor attend the follow-up appointment. Overall, 34% of patients who endorsed elevated distress scores and were referred for mental health care attended the follow-up appointment. Findings suggest patients with SCD and elevated psychological distress are likely to use mental health treatment resources, which notes this program's success in identifying needs and responding to them. However, further research is needed to understand ways to engage this population in mental health care.

Keywords: Sickle cell disease; anxiety; depression; psychological symptom screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Facilities and Services Utilization*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult