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Gender Influences on the Health of Adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease

Gender Influences on the Health of Adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease

Mrs. Antoinette Barton-Gooden, Prof. Jennifer Knight-Madden, Nurse Marlyn Grindley & Dr. Monika Asnani
Faculty of Medical Sciences
School of Nursing
Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Health and Well-Being


Gender influences on health are undisputed and continue unabated despite global efforts to counter these effects. The current study examines gender effects on disease knowledge and quality of life (QOL) in adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD) in Jamaica.


We report the baseline results on 76 girls and 74 boys with mean age 16.1+1.9 years. Girls had higher knowledge scores (15.3 ± 4.2 vs. 13.3 ± 4.2 p=.004), poorer overall QOL scores (70.1 ± 19.6vs. 77.2 ± 17.8 p=0.02) but similar disease severity scores to boys. Girls also had significantly lower scores on many QOL domain scores: Pain occurrences over the course the past month (Pain and Hurt:77.49 ± 23.3 vs. 85.37 ± 17.13); concerns about seeking health services for pain (Worry1:63.73 ± 26.21 vs. 75.33 ± 24.62); confidence in self-management & treatment effects (Treatment: 72.25 ± 23.6 vs. 80.73 ± 18.90) and SCD disclosure & empathy from others (Communication II: 47.44 ± 1.02 vs. 61.71 ± 29.41). Knowledge was positively predicted by age, higher education, greater household possessions and was higher in girls; whereas QOL was lower in girls and those with greater disease severity and higher with higher education.


The paper focuses attention on gender differentiation in health outcomes among persons with SCD occurring as early in the life-course as during adolescence. It also highlights the steady decline with age in QOL perceived by adolescent girls with SCD whereas boys continue to improve with age. Sex-specific analysis of the QOL domains also allows for deeper understanding of issues that may be impacting on overall QOL perceived by adolescents with SCD.

Relevance and Potential Applications

It is important that healthcareproviders consider gender-specific interventions to address gender-specific disparities in health outcomes in adolescents with SCD. Further studies are needed to enhance understanding of issues that result in these gender differentials in health outcomes in SCD.

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