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Knowledge and Health Beliefs of Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait: The Influence on Acceptance of Genetic Screening for Sickle Cell Trait

Gustafson, Shanna L (2006) Knowledge and Health Beliefs of Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait: The Influence on Acceptance of Genetic Screening for Sickle Cell Trait. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Sickle cell trait carriers are healthy; however, they are at risk to have children with sickle cell disease (SCD), a serious hematologic disorder. Unsuccessful population screening for sickle cell trait (SCT) has resulted in a large population of African American individuals entering childbearing age with no knowledge of their risk. Recent experience with newborn screening follow-up of hemoglobinopathies has shown that interest in genetic screening for SCT is low. This study aims to understand and increase the level of acceptance of genetic screening among the African American population through a program of education and assessment of the current state of SCD cultural health beliefs. This is important for Public Health because SCD is the most common genetic disorder affecting the African American community and education to promote screening must be sensitive to the cultural beliefs of the community. Utilizing a method of anonymous surveys given to female African American patients within a busy prenatal clinic the effect of education of SCD on the acceptance of genetic screening for SCT has been assessed. The Health Belief Model was used to assess the current state of health beliefs regarding SCD and trait testing through anonymous surveys. This study revealed that a brief educational intervention regarding SCD in a prenatal setting is effective in significantly increasing knowledge of SCD and acceptance of screening for SCT (p-value < 0.001). African American women of childbearing age have a high perception of severity of SCD, a low perception of susceptibility to SCD, a high perception of benefit to SCT testing and a low perception of barriers to testing for SCT.Education within a prenatal setting can be used as a model to increase acceptance of screening for SCT. A high level of knowledge of SCD is associated with a high level of acceptance; however, the Health Belief Model revealed that currently the majority of the participants do not feel that they are personally at risk to have a child with SCD, regardless of SCD knowledge. Future education of SCD must take into account these beliefs in order to effectively motivate interest in SCT testing.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gustafson, Shanna
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGettig, Elizabethbgettig@hgen.pitt.eduBGETTIG
Committee MemberButler, Jamesjbutler9@pitt.eduJBUTLER9
Committee MemberKrishnamurti,
Date: 1 June 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 March 2006
Approval Date: 1 June 2006
Submission Date: 5 April 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Genetic Counseling
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American; genetic testing; prenatal education; sickle cell disease; sickle cell education; sickle cell trait; genetic screening; health beliefs
Other ID:, etd-04052006-143922
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


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