Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is a genetic blood disorder that puts children at a risk of serious medical complications, early morbidity and mortality, and high health care utilization. Until recently, hydroxyurea was the only disease-modifying treatment for this life-threatening disease and has remained the only option for children younger than 5 years. Evidence-based guidelines recommend using a shared decision-making (SDM) approach for offering hydroxyurea to children with SCA (HbSS or HbS/β0 thalassemia) aged as early as 9 months. However, the uptake remains suboptimal, likely because caregivers lack information about hydroxyurea and have concerns about its safety and potential long-term side effects. Moreover, clinicians do not routinely receive training or tools, especially those that provide medical evidence and consider caregivers’ preferences and values, to facilitate a shared discussion with caregivers.
The aim of this study is to understand how best to help parents of young children with sickle cell disease and their clinicians have a shared discussion about hydroxyurea (one that considers medical evidence and parent values and preferences).
We designed our study to compare the effectiveness of two methods for disseminating hydroxyurea guidelines to facilitate SDM: a clinician pocket guide (ie, usual care) and a clinician hydroxyurea SDM toolkit (H-SDM toolkit). Our primary outcomes are caregiver reports of decisional uncertainty and knowledge of hydroxyurea. The study also assesses the number of children (aged 0-5 years) who were offered and prescribed hydroxyurea and the resultant health outcomes.
The Ethics Committee of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center approved this study in November 2017. As of February 2021, we have enrolled 120 caregiver participants.
The long-term objective of this study is to improve the quality of care for children with SCA. Using multicomponent dissemination methods developed in partnership with key stakeholders and designed to address barriers to high-quality care, caregivers of patients with SCA can make informed and shared decisions about their health.