Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a complex genetic disorder affecting mainly people of African origin. A hallmark of SCD is vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) - this event is acutely painful and the primary cause of hospitalization in SCD patients. VOC can lead to life-threatening complications such as acute chest syndrome. SCD is also associated with chronic complications including pulmonary hypertension, damage to organs and shortened life expectancy. Therefore, effective management and treatment strategies are essential to reduce burden of illness and ensure high quality of life for the patient.

Aim: To survey the treatment and management strategies used by patients with SCD, and to determine patient satisfaction levels.

Methods: SWAY is an ongoing multi-country, cross-sectional survey of SCD patients, caregivers and treating physicians. The survey, conducted online and in print, includes 6 categories: demographics, symptoms, impact of disease and use of a caregiver, impact on work and finances, disease management/treatment approaches, and patient-physician relationship. Where relevant, questions include a 7-point severity scale for each statement; a score of 5−7 indicates 'high severity/impact'. Patient enrollment is via treating physicians and patient association groups. The enrollment target is approximately 2000 patients.

Results: To date, 1513 SCD patients (48% male, mean age 24.1 years, 63% HbSS and 30% HbSC disease) have been surveyed from 11 countries across North and South America, Europe and Africa. When considering the main person responsible for SCD treatment and management, patients primarily reported management by an SCD specialist (59% of patients) or GP/family doctor (20%). Most patients were satisfied with the frequency of interaction with their doctor (78%) and reported they are confident they are being assessed and treated properly (66%; based on high-impact scores 5−7). Accordingly, 60% of patients (scoring 5−7) reported sharing the same goals for SCD management and treatment as their doctor. The most common treatment goals for patients are to improve quality of life (80% of patients), prevent SCD worsening (59%), improve long-term survival (42%) and improve overall symptoms (40%). Patients reported receiving ongoing treatment with folic acid (58%), antibiotics (37%), anti-inflammatories (37%), over-the-counter pain medication (37%), opioids (35%), hydroxyurea (23%), blood transfusions (10%) and L-glutamine (4%). Having surgery or a medical procedure to manage their SCD was reported by 47% of patients, with gall bladder removal (16%), port placement (15%) and splenectomy (11%) being the most frequent. Although 63% of patients (scoring 5−7) indicated satisfaction with their treatment received to manage their SCD, 75% of patients (scoring 5−7) agreed they would like an alternative treatment to their current pain management medication, and 67% of patients would like additional professional emotional support.

In the 12 months before survey completion, 7829 VOCs were reported (mean of 5.2 VOCs per patient); 8% of patients experienced 0 VOCs, 51% experienced 1−4 VOCs and 40% experienced ≥5 VOCs. Of these, 38% of VOCs led to overnight hospitalization, 24% were managed at home and 19% were treated in the emergency room. The main reasons that patients chose to manage their VOCs at home include a previous poor experience at hospital (40%), the opinion that medical assistance was not required (28%), the perception that medical professionals do not understand SCD (27%) and the cost of hospital treatment (22%; 41% of patients have no health insurance). Patients who self-managed their VOCs primarily did so with rest/sleep (73%), by drinking fluids (72%) and with opioid-based analgesia (58%).

Conclusions: This interim analysis of the SWAY survey suggests that although many patients report satisfaction with their current level of management and treatment, there is still a need for additional healthcare support and alternative treatments. Underlining this, many patients experiencing VOCs do not seek medical assistance despite the potential for life-threatening complications, and >75% of patients surveyed are not receiving hydroxyurea even though the majority are cared for by SCD specialists. Further data collection and analysis will highlight any geographic differences in SCD management strategies and help identify any region-specific unmet patient needs.

Disclosures

James:Novartis: Honoraria; Sickle Cell Society: Employment. Andemariam:NovoNordisk: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; New Health Sciences: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Emmaus: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Cyclerion: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Novartis: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Imara: Research Funding; Global Blood Therapeutics: Other: DSMB Member; Community Health Network of Connecticut: Consultancy; Bluebird Bio: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Sanofi Genzyme: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Terumo BCT: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. El-Rassi:Novartis Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding. Francis-Gibson:Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: Employment. Nero:Novartis: Consultancy. Minniti:Doris Duke Foundation: Research Funding. Trimnell:Novartis: Consultancy; Global Blood Therapeutics: Consultancy; Cyclerion: Consultancy. Abboud:Novo Nordisk: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Modus: Research Funding; CRSPR Therapeutics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Amgen: Other: Travel support; Eli Lilly: Research Funding; AstraZeneca: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; GBT: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding. Colombatti:Novartis: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Addmedica: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Global Blood Therapeutics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. de Montalembert:AddMedica: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; bluebird bio, Inc: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Jastaniah:Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria. Nur:Novartis: Consultancy. DeBonnett:Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation: Employment. Osunkwo:Micella Biopharma: Other: DSMB Member ; Terumo: Speakers Bureau; Pfizer: Consultancy; Novartis: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.