Term of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Tilicia Mayo-Gamble

Committee Member 1

Raymona Lawrence

Committee Member 2

Fayth Parks

Non-Voting Committee Member

Shawn Bediako


Depressive symptoms in adults with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) often go unrecognized and untreated. SCD is one of the most common inherited hemoglobin disorders in the United States, affecting 1 in 365 African Americans. Individuals with SCD and co-morbid Depression lead to high hospitalization rates and healthcare utilization. The objective of this study is to explore depressive symptoms and preferred coping strategies among African American Adults with SCD. Furthermore, the aim is to explore the acceptability of religiosity among those who self-identify as religious.

Interviews were conducted with 30 African American adults, recruited during their hematology appointment at the Center for Blood Disorders- Sickle Cell Clinic in Augusta, Georgia. Qualitative content analysis was used to systematically summarize and interpret the data.

The following themes: Implications of SCD, Physical Coping Mechanisms, Psychological Coping Mechanisms, Types of Negative Emotional Responses, Beliefs about Religion and Types of Social Support, emerged from the data.

Findings will inform providers of coping strategies to recommend, conjointly with recommending resources for mental health services referrals. Knowledge of other coping strategies being used or incorporating religiosity will improve the likelihood of the patient addressing their depressive symptoms through a method that is already being used to cope with the physical symptoms experienced in SCD. Information will also be useful to those that serve as a bridge between the patient and the provider: caregivers, family members, community-based organizations, religious leaders, and those within social circles of African Americans with SCD.

Research Data and Supplementary Material