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Sickle Cell Trait Testing in the Athlete: Experience at the University of Pittsburgh

Aloe, Amy Elizabeth (2010) Sickle Cell Trait Testing in the Athlete: Experience at the University of Pittsburgh. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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There is a general lack of awareness regarding sickle cell trait in the field of athletics. While sickle cell trait is usually considered a benign condition, there have been reports of serious complications during extreme conditions (i.e. high altitude or hot temperatures) among competitive athletes. In June 2009, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recommended that all of its student athletes determine their sickle cell trait status, if unknown.Testing athletes for sickle cell trait has possible undesirable implications, such as stigmatization and discrimination against athletes with sickle cell trait. This project aimed to prevent these negative implications by developing a novel program to provide sickle cell education, testing, and pre/post-test counseling for students in collegiate athletic programs.The Pediatric Sickle Cell Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh in July of 2009 to facilitate voluntary testing of student athletes for sickle cell trait. Our program provided pre-test counseling, testing within theUniversity of Pittsburgh's athletic training facilities for each student athlete, and post-test counseling, regardless of trait status. We met with athletic department staff to provide sickle cell trait education, methods to prevent exercise-related sudden death, and emphasized the importance against stigmatizing student athletes with sickle cell trait.Testing and education were received well by both coaches and athletes. In total, we tested 79 student athletes; two of which were found to have sickle cell trait. Our program in the future plans to work with the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department again and expand testing protocols to other universities in the area. In addition, future studies will assess the student athletes' experience during testing and reasons why some athletes chose not to be tested.The public health significance of this project is two-fold: to create a testing protocol and educational plan that can be individualized for the needs of a university, while maintaining the autonomy and privacy of the student athletes, and ensuring beneficence and non-malfeasance. In addition, the project raised awareness of sickle cell trait in the field of athletics, which will prevent sudden death among otherwise healthy, young athletes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Aloe, Amy
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKrishnamurti,
Committee MemberKladny,
Committee MemberGettig, Elizabethbgettig@pitt.eduBGETTIG
Committee MemberButler, Jamesjbutler9@pitt.eduJBUTLER9
Date: 28 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 April 2010
Approval Date: 28 June 2010
Submission Date: 7 April 2010
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: genetic counseling; rhabdomyolysis; exertional sickling; sudden death
Other ID:, etd-04072010-115005
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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