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Many pediatric patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) struggle with neurocognitive and academic difficulties and do not receive proper educational and therapeutic support for these issues. As a result, it is vital that these patients are identified and referred for appropriate care. This article, published in Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, analyzes referrals made in a neurocognitive screening program within an SCD clinic.

This study relied on data from 61 patients across three age cohorts: 6-7, 11-12, and 15-16. All participants underwent a 1-hour screening that included cognitive, academic, attentional, and parent-reported measures of behavioral and executive functioning as well as caregiver and patient interviews. 

Ultimately, the researchers found that in addition to parent-reported concerns about academic performance, many patients were below normative means in many domains. Following the study, 48% of patients were referred for additional support services, and 26% were diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or had an existing ADHD diagnosis.

The researchers concluded that neurocognitive screening is essential for children with SCD and that such screenings identify neurocognitive issues that extend beyond parent-reported concerns. They suggest that future research should study the utility of additional neurocognitive screenings in this patient population [1].


[1] Karst, J. S., Miller, M., Heffelfinger, A. K., Newby, R. F., & Scott, J. P. (2022). Referral outcomes from a neurocognitive screening program for pediatric sickle cell disease. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/cpp0000431

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