• Join Today!

Become a member and connect with:

  • An Active Online Community
  • Articles and Advice on SCD
  • Help Understanding Clinical Trials
scientific articles

Neurocognitive and Psychological Effects of Persistent Pain in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: Pediatric Blood & Cancer

year: 2019

authors: Connolly ME, Bills SE, Hardy SJ



Pain is a major complication of sickle cell disease (SCD), spanning vaso-occlusive crises and persistent pain. Although it is known that persistent pain is associated with considerable impairment in youth without SCD, little is known about the functional effects of persistent pain in SCD. The current study aimed to (a) characterize persistent pain in youth with SCD and (b) determine the extent to which youth with SCD and persistent pain differ in disease morbidity, functional impairment, and neurocognitive and psychological functioning.


Eighty-nine participants (ages 7-16) and caregivers completed questionnaires (BRIEF [Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function], Conners-3 [Conners-third edition], and PedsQL™-SCD Module, where PedsQL is Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory). Participants completed neurocognitive tests WISC-V [Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-fifth edition], WJ-III [Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement-third edition], and WIAT-III [Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-third edition]). Youth were classified as having persistent pain if they reported daily pain for 7 days. Chi-square and independent sample t-test analyses were used to assess group differences (those with vs without persistent pain).


Patients with persistent pain (n = 18) reported lower health-related quality of life (P = .000). Caregivers were more likely to rate youth with persistent pain as having lower planning/organization abilities (P = .011) and clinically elevated symptoms of defiance/aggression and oppositional defiance (Ps = .00; .01). Patients with persistent pain demonstrated poorer working memory (P = .023) and processing speed (P = .027), and fewer demonstrating reading fluency abilities in the average or above range (P = .026).


Youth with SCD and persistent pain are at risk for psychosocial and neurocognitive impairments, suggesting that persistent pain may be an important indicator of disease burden. Furthermore, disease management may be enhanced by assessing cognitive and psychosocial functioning and incorporating interdisciplinary treatments addressing impairment associated with persistent pain.

organization: George Washington University School of Medicine, USA; Children's National Health System, USA; University of South Carolina, USA

DOI: 10.1002/pbc.27823

read more

To improve your experience on this site, we use cookies. This includes cookies essential for the basic functioning of our website, cookies for analytics purposes, and cookies enabling us to personalize site content. By clicking on 'Accept' or any content on this site, you agree that cookies can be placed. You may adjust your browser's cookie settings to suit your preferences. More information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.