A Needs Assessment of Persons With Sickle Cell Disease in a Major Medical Center in North Carolina

N C Med J. 2021 Sep-Oct;82(5):312-320. doi: 10.18043/ncm.82.5.312.


BACKGROUND Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a complex disease associated with many complications and a shortened lifespan. In 2016, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded 8 centers in the United States to form the Sickle Cell Disease Implementation Consortium, with the goal of improving SCD care. The aim of our study was to describe SCD self-efficacy, pain interference, and barriers to care from the perspective of persons with SCD in the North Carolina center.METHODS Persons with SCD, aged 15 and older were recruited from a large SCD center in North Carolina. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews were completed.RESULTS Fifty-one people completed a survey, and 14 people completed an interview or focus group. Barriers identified in the survey included self-care barriers, misconceptions related to hydroxyurea (an oral medication that reduces rates of pain crisis), limited provider knowledge, and stigma. Concerning self-efficacy, participants reported that they were able to manage their pain symptoms most of the time. Pain interfered most with the ability to participate in social and day-to-day activities.Common themes from the focus groups and interviews included misconceptions about hydroxyurea, pain, provider knowledge, stigma, co-management, transportation, and insurance. Recommendations to improve care included the use of case managers, utilization of treatment guidelines, individualized pain protocols, and effective co-management by providers.LIMITATIONS Participants were recruited from 1 SCD center and may not be representative of the entire SCD population in North Carolina.CONCLUSIONS Participants described many perceived barriers to care, and their responses suggest a need for improvements in patient hydroxyurea education, provider knowledge, and care coordination.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea
  • Needs Assessment
  • North Carolina
  • Pain
  • United States


  • Hydroxyurea