Barriers and Facilitators of Premarital Genetic Counseling for Sickle Cell Disease in Northern Nigeria

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2023 Aug 1;45(6):e716-e722. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000002702. Epub 2023 Jul 5.


In high-income countries, premarital genetic counseling for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a standard practice. However, in Nigeria, there is no formal premarital genetic counseling program available for SCD. We conducted a series of focus group discussions with health care professionals, patients with SCD, and parents of the patients with or without SCD to gain an understanding of their attitudes and beliefs towards SCD/Sickle Cell Trait and premarital genetic counseling for SCD. Data were analyzed using Charmaz's constructivist grounded theory approach. Two themes were highlighted in the analysis as follows: (1) the difference between the perception of premarital sickle cell screening among individuals with SCD versus the general population, and (2) the personal beliefs and physical challenges that could lead to the avoidance of premarital screening within the general community. Lack of disease-related knowledge, testing facilities, transportation, and stigma associated with the disease were the most commonly perceived barriers to premarital testing. Also, a willingness to receive premarital testing for SCD exists within our community to reduce the spread of the disease and advocate for improved health-related quality of life of patients with SCD. The content and structure of a premarital genetic counseling program in Kano, Northern Nigeria, needs to be developed.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / epidemiology
  • Counseling
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Humans
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life