The influence of perceived racial bias and health-related stigma on quality of life among children with sickle cell disease

Academic Article


  • Objectives: Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) experience significant health problems that may result in unpredictable pain episodes and frequent healthcare utilization. Disparities in clinical care may contribute to health-related stigma and racial bias for this majority African-American/Black population. There is less known about the influence of health-related stigma and racial bias on the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of children with SCD. In the present study, we assessed these relationships and identified differences across demographic factors (i.e. age, gender). Design: Data was collected from African American children with SCD aged 8–16 years (57% male, 63% HbSS). Children completed the Childhood Stigma Scale (adapted for SCD), the Child Perceptions of Racism in Children and Youth scale, and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory Sickle Cell Disease Module. Caregivers provided demographic information. Results: In the first regression model, health-related stigma (p =.007) predicted HRQOL, but neither age nor gender were significant predictors. In the second regression model, age (p =.03) predicted HRQOL, but neither gender nor racial bias were significant predictors. Of interest, there was a significant interaction between age, gender, and racial bias (p =.02). Specifically, older girls who reported high levels of perceived racial bias had poorer HRQOL. Conclusions: Our study highlights the need for increased awareness about the effects of health-related stigma and racial bias on HRQOL for children with SCD, particularly for older girls who endorse racial bias. Our findings will guide future stigma and bias reduction interventions that may meet the needs of older girls with SCD.
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    Author List

  • Hood AM; Crosby LE; Hanson E; Shook LM; Lebensburger JD; Madan-Swain A; Miller MM; Trost Z