Lived Experiences of Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: A Qualitative Study, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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Dickson Ally Mkoka
Rehema Nkingi


Background: Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is most common genetic disorder and its prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing. Despite increased survival rates, experiences of adults living with SCD in Tanzania is not well explored. This article provides perceived causes of pain crisis, pain self- management approaches and psychosocial implication of SCD.
Aim: This study aimed at exploring experiences of adults living with SCD regarding pain triggering or aggravating factors; self-management for pain; psychosocial-economical implication of SCD and coping mechanism used by individuals living with SCD
Methods: A qualitative study design was chosen using in-depth interviews with adults living with SCD to explore their experience of living with SCD. Fifteen adults aged 18 years and above living with SCD were interviewed. Data were analyzed by using content analysis approach.
Findings: Four categories emerged that described experiences of individuals with SCD. The four categories are; “Pain Triggering and Aggravating Factors” describing participants’ perceived factors causing pain in SCD; “Self-care remedies for the pain” referring to participants’ methods for self-management of pain; “Psychosocial-economic impact of illness” referring to participants’ experience of implication of illness on social and economic life and “Dealing and coping with illness” referring to experience of participants on management and coping strategies used to live with the illness.
Conclusion: Individuals with SCD experiences several episodes of pain that affect their quality of life. Pain episode can be triggered or aggravated by various factors. Several approaches are used by individuals with SCD to self-manage the pain including taking rest, drinking plenty of water or using pain relieving medication. Care for individuals with SCD should be comprehensive and include proper management of pain, health education on home-based intervention for sickle cell pain, supportive services to deal with psychosocial implications of SCD and improving coping strategies to live with the illness.

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