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Physical Activity and Pain in Youth With Sickle Cell Disease

Karlson, Cynthia W. PhD; Delozier, Alexandria M. PhD; Seals, Samantha R. PhD; Britt, Anna B. BS; Stone, Amanda L. PhD; Reneker, Jennifer C. PhD, PT; Jackson, Erin A. MD; McNaull, Melissa M. MD; Credeur, Daniel P. PhD; Welsch, Michael A. PhD

doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000241
Original Articles

Study objectives were to examine the relationships between physical activity, pain, and psychological distress in youth 8 to 17 years of age with sickle cell disease. Participants were 206 youth with sickle cell disease (M = 11.73 years, 54.9% female, 99.5% African American). Caregivers and youth completed a clinical psychosocial screening battery. Results revealed frequent pain (37.6%), moderate median pain intensity, and elevated median pain interference in youth. Lower caregiver-reported physical activity was associated with worse pain outcomes. Increased anxiety was also associated with worse pain outcomes. A better understanding of the relationship between physical activity/inactivity and pain will guide multifactorial treatment interventions.

Departments of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology (Drs Karlson, Jackson, and McNaull and Ms Britt), Psychiatry and Human Behavior (Drs Karlson and Delozier), Population Health Science (Drs Reneker and Welsch), and Physical Therapy (Dr Reneker), The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson; Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of West Florida, Pensacola (Dr Seals); Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee (Dr Stone); and School of Kinesiology and Nutrition, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg (Dr Credeur).

Correspondence: Cynthia W. Karlson, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology, The University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216 (

The authors thank the families of children with sickle cell disease at The University of Mississippi Medical Center that volunteered their time and participated in this project.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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