Title

Student Perspectives on Managing Sickle Cell Disease at School

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2018

Publication Title

Pediatric Blood & Cancer

DOI

10.1002/pbc.27507

ISSN

1545-5017

Abstract

Objective

The study objective was to identify the perceptions of children with sickle cell disease (SCD) in the school environment.

Methods

Semistructured interviews (N = 14) were conducted with pediatric patients ages 6 to 10 who attended Metro Nashville Public Schools. These participants were recruited through the Vanderbilt Sickle Cell Disease Clinic. Participants were asked about the perceived efficacy of their teachers to (1) understand SCD; (2) communicate with students regarding SCD; (3) handle an SCD-related pain episode in school; and (4) identify methods to compensate for school absenteeism associated with an SCD diagnosis. Content analysis identified underlying themes.

Results

Five themes emerged that highlighted the perceptions and recommendations of children with SCD in the school environment: (1) perceptions that allow students to prevent SCD from limiting their school experience; (2) administrator actions to alleviate challenges associated with SCD; (3) communication about SCD; (4) how SCD interferes with school activities; and (5) ways students advocate for themselves. Students also provided four areas of recommendations for school personnel: (1) ways teachers can help with school activities; (2) make-up work for school absences; (3) empowering students with SCD; and (4) helping with SCD episodes at school.

Conclusions

Students with SCD advocated strongly for their needs at school to attain their education. However, they perceived school personnel to lack knowledge about SCD management. This could be overcome with a handbook specific for teachers of students with SCD that could address each of the five themes.

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