Feasibility and Acceptability of Internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain in Adolescents With Sickle Cell Disease and Their Parents

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Pain is a clinical hallmark of sickle cell disease (SCD), and is rarely optimally managed. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for pain has been effectively delivered through the Internet in other pediatric populations. We tested feasibility and acceptability of an Internet-delivered CBT intervention in 25 adolescents with SCD (64% female, mean age=14.8 y) and their parents randomized to Internet CBT (n=15) or Internet Pain Education (n=10). Participants completed pretreatment/posttreatment measures. Eight dyads completed semistructured interviews to evaluate treatment acceptability. Feasibility indicators included recruitment and participation rates, engagement and adherence to intervention, and completion of outcome measures. In total, 87 referrals were received from 9 study sites; our recruitment rate was 60% from those families approached for screening. Among participants, high levels of initial intervention engagement (>90%), and adherence (>70%) were demonstrated. Most participants completed posttreatment outcome and diary measures (>75%). Retention at posttreatment was 80%. High treatment acceptability was reported in interviews. Our findings suggest that Internet-delivered CBT for SCD pain is feasible and acceptable to adolescents with SCD and their parents. Engagement and adherence were good. Next steps are to modify recruitment plans to enhance enrollment and determine efficacy of Internet CBT for SCD pain in a large multisite randomized controlled trial.

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