Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that disproportionately affects Black individuals. Unfortunately, Black people in the United States and abroad experience racism, which has been known to worsen mental health and overall quality of life.
Given that social support is one possible buffer to the negative health impacts of racism, this cross-sectional study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, sought to determine if adolescents with SCD and good social support experience less depression and a better quality of life.
A questionnaire was given to 75 inpatient adolescents with SCD. The questionnaire results showed a strong correlation between perceived racism, depressive symptoms, and poorer health-related quality of life. Greater social support from other individuals with SCD was found to increase the amount of perceived racism experienced.
The researchers concluded that regardless of the amount of support an adolescent with SCD receives, they will likely still suffer from depression associated with racism and SCD. A call to action is made for healthcare professionals to work with each other and their institutions to combat racial biases. Doing so could be invaluable in improving the health and wellbeing of Black adolescents with SCD .
Source: Mougianis, I., Cohen, L. L., Martin, S., Shneider, C., & Bishop, M. (2020). Racism and health-related quality of life in pediatric sickle cell disease: roles of depression and support. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 45(8), 858–866. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa035