Depression and loneliness in Jamaicans with sickle cell disease

Asnani, Monika R.; Fraser, Raphael; Lewis, Norma A.; Reid, Marvin E.
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p40
Academic Journal
Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the commonest genetic disorder in Jamaica, and has life-long implications for those afflicted with it. It is well known that depression and loneliness may exist in those with chronic diseases, but the coexistence of depression and loneliness in people with sickle cell disease is not clear. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with depression and loneliness in the Jamaica Sickle Cell Cohort Study and its age and sex matched controls. Methods: 277 patients with SCD and 65 controls were administered a questionnaire that studied demographics, disease severity, depression, and loneliness. Regression analyses were done to examine relationships between outcomes and associated variables. Results: Depression was found in 21.6% of patients and 9.4% in controls. Loneliness scores were also significantly higher in patients (16.9 ± 5.1) than in controls (14.95 ± 4.69). Depression was significantly associated with unemployment [OR = 2.9, p-value: < 0.001], whereas unemployment (p-value: 0.002), and lower educational attainment were significantly associated with loneliness. In patients with SCD, depression was significantly associated with being unemployed (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.2,4.6, pvalue: 0.01), presence of a leg ulcer (OR = 3.8, 95% CI: 1.7, 8.4, p-value: 0.001), frequent visits (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.2, 8.9, p-value: 0.019), and frequent painful crises (OR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.1, 5.8, p-value: 0.035). Not being employed (Coef.: 2.0; p-value: 0.004) and higher educational attainment (tertiary vs. primary education, Coef.: -5.5; p-value: < 0.001) were significant associations with loneliness after adjusting for genotype. Conclusions: Health workers need to actively look for and manage these problems to optimize their patients' total biopsychosocial care.


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