• cognitive behaviour therapy;
  • pain management;
  • sickle cell disease;
  • distress and coping

Painful crisis is the most common manifestation of sickle cell disease and accounts for the second greatest number of admissions with an average length of stay of 7 days in central London. Despite this frequency of admissions, the management of pain is fraught with problems. This is not surprising since the psychological challenges presented by sickle cell disease are manifold, resulting in significant psychological distress for some individuals. This paper considers the literature on the psychosocial impact of sickle cell disease, and the American research evidence which suggests that pain management strategies that incorporate a psychological intervention can significantly reduce psychological distress as well as hospital admissions. Britain has been slow to incorporate psychology in the pain management strategies, and we have embarked on research to fill this gap. Although this research constitutes work in progress, an argument is put forward for utilizing the cognitive-behavioural perspective in the management of pain in sickle cell disease and we conclude by giving a brief summary of pilot work which is both the foundation and justification for the current ongoing research.