Youth with sickle cell disease (SCD) are at higher risk for grade retention than healthy peers. This is salient because research suggests grade retention is ineffective and places youth at additional risk for negative outcomes. The aims of the present study were to identify possible risk factors for grade retention in youth with SCD and to examine positive family functioning as a possible resilience factor.
Data were extracted from phase 3 of the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease, a multisite, longitudinal study of individuals with SCD. Participants were 370 youth, aged 6–16 years, with complete data on history of grade retention. Collected data included demographics, history of grade retention, disease severity factors, evidence of stroke, family functioning, and academic achievement. A logistic regression model predicting grade retention was calculated.
Increasing age, lower reading achievement, and lower family cohesion were predictive of higher likelihood of grade retention. Also, high family achievement-orientation moderated the negative effects of increasing age on likelihood of grade retention, such that at increasing levels of family achievement-orientation, the relationship between age and grade retention decreased.
These findings suggest the need for interventions that promote connectedness and achievement-orientation in families of youth with SCD. Research is also needed to further explore other possible risk or resilience factors for grade retention in this population, such as school absenteeism. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2014;61:1252–1256. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.