Does Attendance at a Sickle Cell Educational Conference Improve Clinician Knowledge and Attitude Toward Patients with Sickle Cell Disease?

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Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disease associated with both chronic pain and acute painful events referred to as vaso-occlusive crises. Individuals with SCD suffer from a multitude of medical complications in addition to pain. Patients often are stigmatized as “drug-seeking” and receive inadequate pain management. The purpose of this study was to compare clinicians' SCD knowledge and attitudes toward patients with SCD before attending a 2-day conference on SCD (T1) with knowledge and attitudes immediately postconference (T2) and 2 months postconference (T3). A prospective, descriptive survey design was used. The authors administered surveys to assess SCD knowledge and clinicians' attitudes toward patients with SCD at three time points: T1 (N = 59), T2 (N = 38), and T3 (N = 30). SCD knowledge was measured using a 20-item survey, and clinicians' attitudes toward patients with SCD were measured with the General Perceptions About Sickle Cell Patients Scale, which included items on four independent subscales: positive attitudes, negative attitudes, concern-raising behaviors, and red-flag behaviors. The authors compared changes in knowledge and attitude scores between T1-T2 and T1-T3. Overall, knowledge scores were significantly improved (p< .001) and significantly increased between T1-T2 (p< .0001) and T1-T3 (p= .01). Negative attitudes trended lower over the three time points (p= .07), but a significant decrease in the negative attitudes score was only noted for T1-T3 (Z = −2.16.17,p= .03). Attendance at an educational SCD conference was an effective means to improve knowledge and decrease negative attitudes among clinicians. These differences were maintained at 2 months postconference.

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