Healthcare professionals caring for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) anxiously await the release in late 2012 of evidence-based guidelines for primary care physicians. These guidelines are anticipated to include a number of recommendations for health care strategies designed to improve outcomes for SCD patients. As these guidelines become widely disseminated, the evaluation of patient adherence to recommended preventative care will be an essential component of efforts to monitor the quality of health and health care for the SCD population. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of baseline information regarding current levels of SCD patient adherence to recommended therapies. The objective of our study was to describe current levels of self-reported adherence to recommended therapies among a large sample of adults with SCD.
We used data collected as part of a large cohort study of sickle cell patient experiences with care to describe sickle cell patient's self-reported adherence to a number of currently recommended preventative care behaviors. We also examined the association of different levels of adherence with self-reported levels of acute emergency department (ED) and inpatient hospital utilization over the prior 12 months.
292 individuals completed baseline study questionnaires and had completed chart abstractions. The average age of participants was 34.5 (95% CI 33.1–36.), 97% were black or African American and 54% were female. 70% had either SS or SB0thal (sickle cell anemia-SCA), 21% were SC and 9% had Sb+thal. Of the 252 respondents who provided info on income, 50% reported an annual income less than $30k/yr. Those with SCA were significantly younger than those with other genotypes (33 yrs v 37 yrs p=0.02). 91% of patients reported seeing a sickle provider every year, while 73% reported seeing a primary care provider once a year. 45% of patients reported seeing a dentist in the prior year, 58% of all patients reported seeing an eye doctor in the last year. However among the 24% of patients with documented retinopathy, only 65% had seen an eye doctor in the prior year. 82% of patients had received both an influenza vaccine in the prior year and a pneumococcal vaccine within 5 years. Those with low income were less likely to report seeing a SCD provider in the prior 12 months than those with higher incomes (87% v 94% p=0.049). A significant majority of patients (88%) reported high levels (i.e. a self-report of often/very often) of adherence to taking medications as prescribed. 79% reported high-levels of adherence to keeping their clinic appointments. 87% reported high-levels of adherence in following their doctor's directions. In bivariate analyses examining those preventative care behaviors with a significant impact on outcomes, we found that those patients reporting high-levels of adherence to their medical appointments reported fewer ED visits (p=0.015) and fewer inpatient hospitalizations (p=0.005) over the prior 12 months than those with lower levels of adherence. High self-reported levels of compliance with doctor's instructions was associated with fewer ED visits, but not fewer inpatient visits, over the same 12-month period. There was no bivariate correlation between seeing a sickle cell provider or primary care provider annually with outcomes, though this may be due to the overall high levels of adherence to these behaviors that we observed in our sample. In ordinal logistic regression analyses controlling for age, education, and poverty levels, high self-reported levels of compliance with doctor's instructions exhibited an independent association with lower levels of ED visits (OR = 0.44, 95%CI [0.21, 0.90]).
We report relatively high levels of self-reported adherence to some, but not all, recommended preventative care behaviors among a sample of adults with SCD. The relatively low levels of adherence to dental and eye care recommendations should be noted as areas of focus for future interventions. Relationships between providers and SCD patients are notoriously rife with conflict. The association of high levels of compliance with doctor's instructions with lower levels of acute care utilization observed here suggests a need to identify the specific factors and mechanisms within provider-SCD patient relationships that successfully lead to improved clinical outcomes.
Lanzkron:Hemaquest: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; NHLBI: Research Funding. Haywood:NHLBI: Research Funding. Strouse:NHLBI: Research Funding. Beach:NHLBI, NIMH: Research Funding; Merck: Speakers Bureau.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.