Pain, Coping, and Sleep in Children and Adolescents With Sickle Cell Disease




The study examined the relationships among pain, pain coping, and sleep, and assessed factors (age, gender, frequency, and intensity of pain) that affect pain, coping, and sleep in children with sickle cell disease (SCD).


Participants (66) were 39 children (M = 11.5 years) and 27 adolescents (M = 15.5 years) with SCD who completed an electronic visual analog scale (eVAS), Pain Coping Questionnaire, and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index.


About two-thirds of the children reported pain the previous month. No significant differences were found between pain and age, gender, pain intensity, or frequency. Most children coped with pain by seeking information, problem solving, seeking social support, and positive self-statements. There were significant negative correlations in males between worse pain severity and behavioral distraction and internalizing or catastrophizing. The majority (91.2%) had mild to severe sleep disturbances, with 18.2% requiring sleeping medication three or more times a week. There were no significant differences between sleep and age, gender, pain intensity, or frequency.


Children with SCD experience pain that affects sleep patterns and the way they cope with pain. Nurses need to concurrently assess pain, coping, and sleep and promote sleep hygiene and positive coping strategies during pain episodes.