International Journal of Pediatrics
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic hematologic condition in which the red blood cells are affected. Individuals with SCD are thought to be at an increased risk for psychosocial or neurobehavioral comorbidities in comparison to healthy individuals, which can impact their coping skills and quality of life. This study examined differences in attention and psychosocial functioning in youth with sickle cell disease and demographically matched healthy peers. The study sample consisted of adolescents 12 to 18 years of age with SCD and demographically matched healthy controls. Measures included a demographic questionnaire, the Spence Child Anxiety Scale, Child Report (SCAS), Center of Epidemiological Studies – Depression, Revised, Child Version (CES-DR), and an adaptive rate continuous performance test (ARCPT). Paired samples t-tests were used to compare groups on sustained attention and psychosocial symptoms. Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationship between sustained attention and psychosocial symptomology for adolescents with SCD and controls. There were no demographic differences between groups. Additionally, and unexpectedly, there were no differences in attention, anxiety, or depression. Performance on the ARCPT was not related to the presence of psychosocial symptoms. The present study found that adolescents with SCD are like healthy peers in terms of sustained attention, anxiety, and depression, providing evidence for resilience in the face of chronic illness. The resilience exhibited by youth in this sample may contribute to their improved pain coping skills and quality of life in comparison to youth with deficits in executive functioning and psychosocial functioning.