This study aimed to: (1) examine changes in pain, psychosocial functioning, and health care utilization among children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD) over a 2-year period and (2) identify baseline biopsychosocial variables associated with the development and maintenance of chronic SCD pain at follow-up.
Materials and Methods:
Forty-two youth (8 to 18 y old) with SCD completed a battery of self-report measures at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translational Innovations Opportunities and Networks and American Pain Society Pain Taxonomy (AAPT) diagnostic criteria were used to categorize patients into pain frequency groups at both timepoints: chronic (pain on most [≥15] d/mo for the past 6 mo, per AAPT diagnostic criteria), episodic (pain on 1 to 14 d/mo), or asymptomatic (0 d/mo).
At baseline, 31% (n=13) had chronic pain, 50% (n=21) episodic pain, and 19% (n=8) were asymptomatic. At follow-up, 40.5% (n=17) had chronic pain, 52.4% (n=22) episodic pain, and 7.1% (n=3) were asymptomatic. Between baseline and 2-year follow-up, 12% (n=5) developed chronic SCD pain. Depressive symptoms and admissions for pain significantly increased over time for youth with chronic pain (Ps<0.05). An interaction effect revealed that baseline pain groups differed in their change in pain intensity over time (P<0.01). Baseline psychosocial factors (ie, higher functional disability, greater depressive symptoms, higher pain catastrophizing, and lower quality of life) were significantly associated with chronic pain at follow-up.
Biopsychosocial factors may be associated with the development and maintenance of chronic SCD pain and their relative contributions warrant further study.