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      A Stress and Pain Self-management mHealth App for Adult Outpatients With Sickle Cell Disease: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Study

      , RN, PhD, FAAN 1 , , , PhD 1 , , MPH, MD, FACP 2 , , PhD, ABPP 3 , , RN, MPH, PhD, FAAN 4 , 5 , , RN, PhD, FAAN 6 , , DNP, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC 1 , , PhD 7 , , MD 7 , , RN, PhD, FAAN 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications
      sickle cell disease, self-management, stress, pain, opioid use, analgesics, intervention, support, protocol, randomized controlled trial

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          This paper describes the research protocol for a randomized controlled trial of a self-management intervention for adults diagnosed with sickle cell disease (SCD). People living with SCD experience lifelong recurrent episodes of acute and chronic pain, which are exacerbated by stress.


          This study aims to decrease stress and improve SCD pain control with reduced opioid use through an intervention with self-management relaxation exercises, named You Cope, We Support (YCWS). Building on our previous findings from formative studies, this study is designed to test the efficacy of YCWS on stress intensity, pain intensity, and opioid use in adults with SCD.


          A randomized controlled trial of the short-term (8 weeks) and long-term (6 months) effects of YCWS on stress, pain, and opioid use will be conducted with 170 adults with SCD. Patients will be randomized based on 1:1 ratio (stratified on pain intensity [≤5 or >5]) to be either in the experimental (self-monitoring of outcomes, alerts or reminders, and use of YCWS [relaxation and distraction exercises and support]) or control (self-monitoring of outcomes and alerts or reminders) group. Patients will be asked to report outcomes daily. During weeks 1 to 8, patients in both groups will receive system-generated alerts or reminders via phone call, text, or email to facilitate data entry (both groups) and intervention use support (experimental). If the participant does not enter data after 24 hours, the study support staff will contact them for data entry troubleshooting (both groups) and YCWS use (experimental). We will time stamp and track patients’ web-based activities to understand the study context and conduct exit interviews on the acceptability of system-generated and staff support. This study was approved by our institutional review board.


          This study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health in 2020. The study began in March 2021 and will be completed in June 2025. As of April 2022, we have enrolled 45.9% (78/170) of patients. We will analyze the data using mixed effects regression models (short term and long term) to account for the repeated measurements over time and use machine learning to construct and evaluate prediction models. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the study was modified to allow for mail-in consent process, internet-based consent process via email or Zoom videoconference, devices delivered by FedEx, and training via Zoom videoconference.


          We expect the intervention group to report reductions in pain intensity (primary outcome; 0-10 scale) and in stress intensity (0-10 scale) and opioid use (Wisepill event medication monitoring system), which are secondary outcomes. Our study will contribute to advancing the use of nonopioid therapy such as guided relaxation and distraction techniques for managing SCD pain.

          Trial Registration

          ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04484272; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04484272

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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          Most cited references80

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          CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain - United States, 2016.

          This guideline provides recommendations for primary care clinicians who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. The guideline addresses 1) when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; 2) opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and 3) assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use. CDC developed the guideline using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework, and recommendations are made on the basis of a systematic review of the scientific evidence while considering benefits and harms, values and preferences, and resource allocation. CDC obtained input from experts, stakeholders, the public, peer reviewers, and a federally chartered advisory committee. It is important that patients receive appropriate pain treatment with careful consideration of the benefits and risks of treatment options. This guideline is intended to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy for chronic pain, improve the safety and effectiveness of pain treatment, and reduce the risks associated with long-term opioid therapy, including opioid use disorder, overdose, and death. CDC has provided a checklist for prescribing opioids for chronic pain (http://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/38025) as well as a website (http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribingresources.html) with additional tools to guide clinicians in implementing the recommendations.
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            Mortality in sickle cell disease. Life expectancy and risk factors for early death.

            Information on life expectancy and risk factors for early death among patients with sickle cell disease (sickle cell anemia, sickle cell-hemoglobin C disease, and the sickle cell-beta-thalassemias) is needed to counsel patients, target therapy, and design clinical trials. We followed 3764 patients who ranged from birth to 66 years of age at enrollment to determine the life expectancy and calculate the median age at death. In addition, we investigated the circumstances of death for all 209 adult patients who died during the study, and used proportional-hazards regression analysis to identify risk factors for early death among 964 adults with sickle cell anemia who were followed for at least two years. Among children and adults with sickle cell anemia (homozygous for sickle hemoglobin), the median age at death was 42 years for males and 48 years for females. Among those with sickle cell-hemoglobin C disease, the median age at death was 60 years for males and 68 years for females. Among adults with sickle cell disease, 18 percent of the deaths occurred in patients with overt organ failure, predominantly renal. Thirty-three percent were clinically free of organ failure but died during an acute sickle crisis (78 percent had pain, the chest syndrome, or both; 22 percent had stroke). Modeling revealed that in patients with sickle cell anemia, the acute chest syndrome, renal failure, seizures, a base-line white-cell count above 15,000 cells per cubic millimeter, and a low level of fetal hemoglobin were associated with an increased risk of early death. Fifty percent of patients with sickle cell anemia survived beyond the fifth decade. A large proportion of those who died had no overt chronic organ failure but died during an acute episode of pain, chest syndrome, or stroke. Early mortality was highest among patients whose disease was symptomatic. A high level of fetal hemoglobin predicted improved survival and is probably a reliable childhood forecaster of adult life expectancy.
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              Pulmonary hypertension as a risk factor for death in patients with sickle cell disease.

              The prevalence of pulmonary hypertension in adults with sickle cell disease, the mechanism of its development, and its prospective prognostic significance are unknown. We performed Doppler echocardiographic assessments of pulmonary-artery systolic pressure in 195 consecutive patients (82 men and 113 women; mean [+/-SD] age, 36+/-12 years). Pulmonary hypertension was prospectively defined as a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of at least 2.5 m per second. Patients were followed for a mean of 18 months, and data were censored at the time of death or loss to follow-up. Doppler-defined pulmonary hypertension occurred in 32 percent of patients. Multiple logistic-regression analysis, with the use of the dichotomous variable of a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of less than 2.5 m per second or 2.5 m per second or more, identified a self-reported history of cardiovascular or renal complications, increased systolic blood pressure, high lactate dehydrogenase levels (a marker of hemolysis), high levels of alkaline phosphatase, and low transferrin levels as significant independent correlates of pulmonary hypertension. The fetal hemoglobin level, white-cell count, and platelet count and the use of hydroxyurea therapy were unrelated to pulmonary hypertension. A tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of at least 2.5 m per second, as compared with a velocity of less than 2.5 m per second, was strongly associated with an increased risk of death (rate ratio, 10.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.2 to 47.0; P<0.001) and remained so after adjustment for other possible risk factors in a proportional-hazards regression model. Pulmonary hypertension, diagnosed by Doppler echocardiography, is common in adults with sickle cell disease. It appears to be a complication of chronic hemolysis, is resistant to hydroxyurea therapy, and confers a high risk of death. Therapeutic trials targeting this population of patients are indicated. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                July 2022
                29 July 2022
                : 11
                : 7
                : e33818
                [1 ] Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science University of Florida College of Nursing Gainesville, FL United States
                [2 ] Division of Hematology and Oncology Department of Medicine University of Florida Gainesville, FL United States
                [3 ] Department of Clinical and Health Psychology College of Public Health and Health Professions University of Florida Gainesville, FL United States
                [4 ] Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion UCLA School of Nursing Los Angeles, CA United States
                [5 ] Department of Family, Community, and Health System Science University of Florida College of Nursing Gainesville, FL United States
                [6 ] School of Nursing MGH Institute of Health Profressions Boston, MA United States
                [7 ] College of Medicine University of Florida-Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Miriam O Ezenwa moezenwa@ 123456ufl.edu
                Author information
                ©Miriam O Ezenwa, Yingwei Yao, Molly W Mandernach, David A Fedele, Robert J Lucero, Inge Corless, Brenda W Dyal, Mary H Belkin, Abhinav Rohatgi, Diana J Wilkie. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 29.07.2022.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 24 September 2021
                : 20 November 2021
                : 16 March 2022
                : 28 April 2022

                sickle cell disease,self-management,stress,pain,opioid use,analgesics,intervention,support,protocol,randomized controlled trial


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