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Stigma and Pain in Adolescents Hospitalized for Sickle Cell Vaso-occlusive Pain Episodes

Martin, Sarah R. PhD; Cohen, Lindsey L. PhD; Mougianis, Ifigenia MA; Griffin, Anya PhD; Sil, Soumitri PhD; Dampier, Carlton MD
The Clinical Journal of Pain: Post Acceptance: September 01, 2017
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000553
Original Article: PDF Only


Sickle cell disease (SCD) pain and hospitalizations increase during adolescence and adolescents with SCD may be at-risk for experiencing health-related stigma, which may result in poor health outcomes. This study examined relations among health-related stigma, pain interference, social support, quality of life (QOL), and hospital outcomes (i.e., loneliness, pain reduction, and length of stay [LOS]) in adolescents hospitalized with SCD pain.


12- to 18-year-old adolescents (N=92) hospitalized with SCD pain completed measures of stigma, pain interference, social support, QOL, and state loneliness. Reduction of pain intensity during hospitalization and LOS were collected from medical chart review.


Higher stigma was associated with higher pain interference, lower QOL, more loneliness, and less pain reduction in the hospital. Pain interference was positively associated with LOS.


These preliminary findings highlight the importance of assessing and addressing SCD-related stigma and pain interference in adolescents hospitalized for SCD pain as these factors may influence treatment outcomes.

Sarah R. Martin is now at the University of California, Los Angeles

This research was supported by grants from the Health Resources and Service Administration (1D40HP19643; 2D40HP19643) awarded to Lindsey L. Cohen. Partial support for this project was also provided by the Children’s Medical Fund Grant from the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society awarded to Ifigenia Mougianis.

Stigma and Pain in Adolescents Hospitalized for Sickle Cell Disease Vaso-occlusive Episodes

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Sarah R. Martin, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, University of University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (e-mail:

Received February 7, 2017

Accepted July 13, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.