Home Print this page Email this page Users Online: 720
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 8-12

Depression among sickle cell anemia patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia

1 Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health, Eastern Province, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication14-Dec-2017

Correspondence Address:
Mohsen Ali Alhomoud
Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health, Eastern Province
Saudi Arabia
Login to access the Email id

DOI: 10.4103/sjmms.sjmms_123_16

PMID: 30787809

Rights and Permissions

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with, depression among sickle cell anemia adult patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2014 and May 2015 among sickle cell anemia patients aged 16–70 years from the outpatient hematology clinics at Qatif Central Hospital. A total of 110 successive participants consented and answered an anonymous, self-administered, questionnaire and the Arabic version of the Beck Depression Inventory-II. Individuals were considered depressed if they scored ≥14 in Beck Depression Inventory-II. Simple logistic regression was used to compare differences between the depressed and nondepressed groups. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were reported.
Results: Depression was detected in 53 participants (48.2%). Bivariate analysis showed that lower educational qualification (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 1.1–5.3; P = 0.021), higher frequency of vaso-occlusive crises (OR = 3.4; 95% CI = 1.3–8.7; P = 0.008) and frequent visits to the hematology clinic (OR = 5.3; 95% CI = 1.4–19.9; P = 0.008) were significantly associated with depression.
Conclusion: This study revealed that there is high prevalence of depression among sickle cell anemia patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Keywords: Depression, prevalence, Saudi Arabia, sickle cell anemia

How to cite this article:
Alhomoud MA, Gosadi IM, Wahbi HA. Depression among sickle cell anemia patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Saudi J Med Med Sci 2018;6:8-12

How to cite this URL:
Alhomoud MA, Gosadi IM, Wahbi HA. Depression among sickle cell anemia patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Saudi J Med Med Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Jan 20];6:8-12. Available from: https://www.sjmms.net/text.asp?2018/6/1/8/220790

  Introduction Top

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common hemoglobinopathies. It includes sickle cell anemia (SCA), sickle cell hemoglobin C disease, sickle beta thalassemia and others.[1] It is estimated that annually >300,000 children are born with SCD worldwide.[2] The disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive disease and is characterized by sickling of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells.[1],[3] SCA is the most severe form of SCD. Patients with SCA experience a wide spectrum of symptoms and complications such as acute chest syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, frequent painful episodes and osteomyelitis.[3] They have a shorter lifespan than the general population because of the increased susceptibility to major morbidities such as renal, respiratory and heart failures and stroke.[3],[4] The median life expectancy in high-income countries is 40–60 years, but is much lower in low-income countries.[2],[5] Furthermore, patients with SCA have been found to have significantly worse quality of life scores than patients with other chronic diseases such as congenital heart disease and nephrotic syndrome, mainly because of frequent painful episodes.[6]

In the United States, a historical cohort of SCA-related data from eight states showed that SCA is correlated with a high rate of acute care encounters and rehospitalization,[7] which dramatically increases the overall cost of health care for these patients. For example, between 1989 and 1993, SCA-related hospitalizations cost the US government around USD475 million annually.[8] In Saudi Arabia, SCA is prevalent in the Eastern and Southwestern regions.[9] However, reliable statistical data on the prevalence of SCA in Saudi Arabia are currently not available.[10] Nevertheless, efforts have been made by the Saudi Ministry of Health to lower the burden of the disease by implementing premarital screening and a genetic counseling program.[11]

Similar to other chronic diseases, psychiatric difficulties and depression are common among patients with SCA. This can be attributed to many factors such as the chronic nature of the disease, severity of the symptoms and presence of psychosocial stressors.[12],[13] Previous studies in this field have tended to collectively examine the frequency of depression among SCA patients along with patients with different SCD genotypes. Over the past decade, the prevalence of depression in SCD adult patients has been estimated to be between 21.6% and 44% worldwide.[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19] A large study conducted in Nigeria to investigate the psychological impact of SCD in 408 participants reported that about 50% of the sample had depressive feelings.[13] Asnani et al. examined the prevalence of depression in 277 SCD patients and 65 controls in Jamaica and reported a prevalence rate of 21.6% in SCD patients and 9% in the controls.[19] In Saudi Arabia, there is no data about the prevalence of depression in SCA patients. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of, and the factors associated with, depression among SCA patients in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

  Materials and Methods Top

This cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2014 and May 2015 at the outpatient hematology clinics of Qatif Central Hospital, which is a secondary care center located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Consecutive sampling was used where SCA patients were recruited during their latest visit to the outpatient hematology clinics. This process resulted in a convenience sample of 110 patients. Participants were considered eligible for the study if they were Saudi, aged 16–70 years, diagnosed with SCA (HbSS) based on the hemoglobin electrophoresis and able to give informed consent. Patients known to have clinical depression or those treated for depression before enrollment in the study were excluded to avoid selection bias, which would potentially affect the ability of the study to assess factors associated with depression among the study sample.

Data were collected using anonymous, self-administered and structured Arabic questionnaire. The questionnaire elicited sociodemographic and disease severity-related information and comprised the Arabic version of Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II).[20] The sociodemographic data included age, gender, marital status, highest educational level, employment status and monthly income. In addition, questions about the genotype, frequency of vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) and the frequency of visits to the hematology clinic were included. Frequency of VOCs was categorized into once or less every 4 months (classified as rare), once or more every month (classified as frequent) or other. The frequency of visits to the hematology clinic was categorized into three times or less every year (classified as rare), once or more every month (classified as frequent) or other. BDI-II was used to measure depression and the following cutoffs were used: an overall score of 0–13 indicates no depression, 14–19 indicates mild depression, 20–28 indicates moderate depression and 29–63 indicates severe depression.[21] The Arabic version of BDI-II has an acceptable validity and reliability in Arabic-speaking populations. Based on Cronbach's alpha, the estimated internal consistency reliability for the scale ranged from 0.82 to 0.93 in these populations.[22] In our study, the internal consistency reliability of BDI-II scale measured using Cronbach's alpha was 0.86.

The information collected from the individuals was coded and entered in dataset created in Statistical Package for Social Science version 21 (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics was reported as percentage and frequency for both categorical and continuous data (after the conversion into categorical variables). The age variable was divided into two categories: ≤30 years and >30 years. The differences between depressed and nondepressed individuals were tested using the simple logistic regression. Crude odds ratios (ORs) were estimated for each of the variables along with the 95% confidence interval (CI). A significance level of 0.05 was set to determine statistical significance for all tests. In addition, any OR >1.5 was considered to be clinically significant.

Ethical approval for this research was received from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (approval reference 14/4443/IRB), on 1st December 2014.

  Results Top

A total of 115 eligible patients were approached and 110 (95%) accepted to participate in the study. The individuals' age ranged from 16 to 50 years, with a mean age of 31.7 years (standard deviation [SD] = 8.2). Of the 110 participants, 45.5% were ≤30 years old and 54.5% were >30 years old; 57.3% were males and 65.5% were married. School education was reported in 52.7%. The majority of the patients were employed (58.2%). However, 51.8% stated that they had a monthly income of ≤SAR 5000. Most of the participants (75.5%) described the frequency of their VOCs as rare, and only 24.5% reported frequent VOCs. The frequency of visits to the hematology clinic was reported as rare by the majority of the study population (86.4%) as compared with frequent clinic visits (13.6%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic and clinical characteristics of 110 sickle cell anemia patients

Click here to view

The mean depression score of BDI-II for the study population was 13.5 (SD = 9.3), ranging from 0 to 39. About 48% (53) of the participating patients scored within the mild to severe range of depression; the remaining reported no depression symptoms. [Table 2] displays the estimates with the 95% CI for each category.
Table 2: The depression status of 110 sickle cell anemia patients

Click here to view

Simple logistic regression was performed to determine the relationship between demographic and disease severity variables with depression [Table 3]. No statistical or clinical significant differences were noted for age, gender, marital status or employment status between the two groups (depressed and not depressed). However, persons with lower levels of education (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 1.1–5.3; P = 0.02), higher frequency of VOCs (OR = 3.4; 95% CI = 1.3–8.7; P = 0.008) and higher frequency of visits to the hematology clinic (OR = 5.3; 95% CI = 1.4–19.9; P = 0.008) had an increased risk of being depressed.
Table 3: Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the 53 sickle cell anemia patients with depression

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

SCA, the most severe form of SCD, has a high prevalence rate in the Eastern and Southwestern regions of Saudi Arabia.[1],[9] In general, depression is common among SCA patients, given its severity of symptoms and its debilitating effects.[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19] However, in Saudi Arabia, there was no data specifically available regarding the prevalence of depression among SCA patients. Our study, using the BADI-II scale with a cutoff of ≥14, found that depression is prevalent in almost half (48.2%) of SCA patients from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. This finding is higher than that of other studies that reported a prevalence of depression among SCD adult patients [Table 4].[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19] The high prevalence rate in our study may be expected considering that the study population suffered from the severest form of the disease, i.e., HbSS.
Table 4: Studies with prevalence rates of depression among sickle cell disease adult patients

Click here to view

Depression is among the top five leading causes of disability in Saudi Arabia.[23] Prevalence of depression among different subpopulations, including primary health-care patients, secondary school students and the elderly, has been reported from different regions of the country.[24],[25],[26],[27] Compared with these studies, the rate of depression found among SCA patients of the current study is high.[25],[26] Moreover, few studies have reported a similar or higher rate of depression among non-SCD cohorts.[24],[27] This discrepancy might be explained by the use of different depression scales with different sensitivities and specificities.

The results of the current study showed that individuals with only school education were at a higher risk of developing depression than individuals with a university or college education. These findings are consistent with the results of Hasan et al., who showed that SCD patients with lesser than high school education were more prone to depression.[14] A low level of education in patients with SCA might be expected because of school absenteeism in children and early school dropout by adults due to clinical complications of the disease and deteriorating health.[28]

This study found that patients with a low monthly income (SAR ≤5000) have nearly a twofold higher risk of developing depression than patients with high monthly income (SAR >5000). However, statistical significance was not achieved, most probably owing to the small sample size. Similar findings were reported by Hasan et al.[14] In SCA patients, low educational level, the chronic nature of the disease and the frequent hospitalization may result in them being unable to hold or sustain permanent employment, subsequently causing financial difficulties. Unemployment and financial strains have been found to be major triggers of depression in SCD and SCA patients.[29]

Our results also indicated that patients with frequent VOCs were at a greater risk of developing depression than those with less frequent events. These findings are consistent with the findings from previous studies.[14],[17],[19] Such an association could be expected because VOCs are the main cause of painful episodes, serious morbidities and frequent hospitalization among SCA patients, i.e., a worsening course and burden of the disease.

Our findings of higher risk of depression among patients who reported frequent hospital or clinic visits are also coherent with the findings of Asnani et al.[19] Frequent health-care provider contact may be a proxy for severity of the disease and increased frequency of acute episodes, which can lead to depression.

The results of this study indicate that health-care providers need to routinely look for both physical and psychological health problems in patients with SCA, with appropriate use of antidepressants and psychotherapy and psychiatric referral when needed. Health-care providers should play an active role in improving the quality of life for these at-risk patients.

The authors believe further research is needed to determine the factors that will improve the quality of life for SCA patients in the Saudi community, with subsequent development of guidelines specific for the physical and psychological management of these patients.

The authors acknowledge the limitations of this study including its small sample size, which makes it difficult to reach a significant conclusion for some risk factors for depression. In addition, the study was conducted in only one hospital, which makes it less representative of all SCA patients in the Eastern Province. This study did not examine or assess the health-related quality of life in our patients, and thus were unable to evaluate the association between this factor and depression. Furthermore, this study did not evaluate other important characteristics such as patients' complications, nutritional status, adherence to treatment and other comorbidities, all of which have an influence on depression. Another limitation of this study is the use of BDI-II for the assessment of depression. Although BDI-II is a validated measure of depression, a structured clinical interview may have been a more robust approach. Finally, multiple logistic regression was not carried out because of the small sample size, which makes our results at risk of confounding.

  Conclusion Top

The prevalence of depression among SCA patients identified in this study is high. Frequency of VOCs, frequency of visits to the clinic, educational level and low monthly income are the most significant factors associated with depression in SCA patients. Our findings support the hypothesis that depression in patients with SCA could be associated with demographics and disease severity factors.

Financial support and sponsorship

This project was financially supported by the Vice Deanship of Research Chair, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Quinn CT. Sickle cell disease in childhood: From newborn screening through transition to adult medical care. Pediatr Clin North Am 2013;60:1363-81.  Back to cited text no. 1
Piel FB, Patil AP, Howes RE, Nyangiri OA, Gething PW, Dewi M, et al. Global epidemiology of sickle haemoglobin in neonates: A contemporary geostatistical model-based map and population estimates. Lancet 2013;381:142-51.  Back to cited text no. 2
Chakravorty S, Williams TN. Sickle cell disease: A neglected chronic disease of increasing global health importance. Arch Dis Child 2015;100:48-53.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lanzkron S, Carroll CP, Haywood C Jr. Mortality rates and age at death from sickle cell disease: U.S 1979-2005. Public Health Rep 2013;128:110-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hamideh D, Alvarez O. Sickle cell disease related mortality in the United States (1999-2009). Pediatr Blood Cancer 2013;60:1482-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bhagat VM, Baviskar SR, Mudey AB, Goyal RC. Poor health related quality of life among patients of sickle cell disease. Indian J Palliat Care 2014;20:107-11.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Brousseau DC, Owens PL, Mosso AL, Panepinto JA, Steiner CA. Acute care utilization and rehospitalizations for sickle cell disease. JAMA 2010;303:1288-94.  Back to cited text no. 7
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/sicklecell/data.html. [Last accessed on 2015 Aug 05; Last updated on 2015 Jul 08].  Back to cited text no. 8
El-Hazmi MA, Al-Hazmi AM, Warsy AS. Sickle cell disease in Middle East Arab countries. Indian J Med Res 2011;134:597-610.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Jastaniah W. Epidemiology of sickle cell disease in Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2011;31:289-93.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Memish ZA, Saeedi MY. Six-year outcome of the national premarital screening and genetic counseling program for sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia in Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2011;31:229-35.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Wallen GR, Minniti CP, Krumlauf M, Eckes E, Allen D, Oguhebe A, et al. Sleep disturbance, depression and pain in adults with sickle cell disease. BMC Psychiatry 2014;14:207.  Back to cited text no. 12
Anie KA, Egunjobi FE, Akinyanju OO. Psychosocial impact of sickle cell disorder: Perspectives from a Nigerian setting. Global Health 2010;6:2.  Back to cited text no. 13
Hasan SP, Hashmi S, Alhassen M, Lawson W, Castro O. Depression in sickle cell disease. J Natl Med Assoc 2003;95:533-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
Jenerette C, Funk M, Murdaugh C. Sickle cell disease: A stigmatizing condition that may lead to depression. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2005;26:1081-101.  Back to cited text no. 15
Laurence B, George D, Woods D. Association between elevated depressive symptoms and clinical disease severity in African-American adults with sickle cell disease. J Natl Med Assoc 2006;98:365-9.  Back to cited text no. 16
Levenson JL, McClish DK, Dahman BA, Bovbjerg VE, de A Citero V, Penberthy LT, et al. Depression and anxiety in adults with sickle cell disease: The PiSCES project. Psychosom Med 2008;70:192-6.  Back to cited text no. 17
Edwards CL, Green M, Wellington CC, Muhammad M, Wood M, Feliu M, et al. Depression, suicidal ideation, and attempts in black patients with sickle cell disease. J Natl Med Assoc 2009;101:1090-5.  Back to cited text no. 18
Asnani MR, Fraser R, Lewis NA, Reid ME. Depression and loneliness in Jamaicans with sickle cell disease. BMC Psychiatry 2010;10:40.  Back to cited text no. 19
Ghareeb AG. Manual of Arabic BDI-II. 1st ed. Cairo, Egypt: Angle Press; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 20
Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK. Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory–II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation; 1996.  Back to cited text no. 21
Alansari BM. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) items characteristics among undergraduate students of nineteen islamic countries. J Soc Behav Pers 2005;33:675-84.  Back to cited text no. 22
Memish ZA, Jaber S, Mokdad AH, AlMazroa MA, Murray CJ, Al Rabeeah AA, et al. Burden of disease, injuries, and risk factors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1990-2010. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:E169.  Back to cited text no. 23
Alibrahim OA, Al-Sadat N, Elawad NA. Gender and risk of depression in saudi arabia, a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Public Health Afr 2010;1:e7.  Back to cited text no. 24
Asal AR, Abdel-Fattah MM. Prevalence, symptomatology, and risk factors for depression among high school students in Saudi Arabia. Neurosciences (Riyadh) 2007;12:8-16.  Back to cited text no. 25
Abdelwahid HA, Al-Shahrani SI. Screening of depression among patients in family medicine in Southeastern Saudi Arabia. Saudi Med J 2011;32:948-52.  Back to cited text no. 26
Al-Qadhi W, Ur. Rahman S, Ferwana MS, Abdulmajeed IA. Adult depression screening in saudi primary care: Prevalence, instrument and cost. BMC Psychiatry 2014;14:190.  Back to cited text no. 27
Vilela RQ, Cavalcante JC, Cavalcante BF, Araújo DL, Lôbo Mde M, Nunes FA, et al. Quality of life of individuals with sickle cell disease followed at referral centers in Alagoas, Brazil. Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter 2012;34:442-6.  Back to cited text no. 28
Roberti MR, Moreira CL, Tavares RS, Borges Filho HM, Silva AG, Maia CH, et al. Evaluation of quality of life of patients with sickle cell disease in a General Hospital of Goiás, Brazil. Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter 2010;32:449-54.  Back to cited text no. 29


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Clinical depression in children and adolescents with sickle cell anaemia: influencing factors in a resource-limited setting
Osita Ezenwosu, Barth Chukwu, Ifeyinwa Ezenwosu, Ndubuisi Uwaezuoke, Christopher Eke, Maria Udorah, Chinedu Idoko, Anthony Ikefuna, Ifeoma Emodi
BMC Pediatrics. 2021; 21(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 The Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety Among Sickle Cell Disease Patients in King Abdulaziz University Hospital
Adel F Al-Marzouki,Norah I Alrefaie,Nora A Aljohani,Raghad A Alandanusi,Abdulrahman A Alghamdi,Osman O Radhwi
Cureus. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Symptoms in Patients With Beta Thalassemia Major in Almadinah Almunawwarah, Saudi Arabia
Mohammed A Zolaly,Farah M Zolaly,Lama Al Belowi,Raafat Shuqdar,Mohammed A Al Belowi,Turki A Alwasaidi,Muayad Albadrani
Cureus. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Depression Among Keratoconus Patients in Saudi Arabia
Walaa Al-Dairi,Omar M AL Sowayigh,Ali A Al Saeed,Ali Alsaad
Cureus. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 The Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in Sickle Cell Disease Patients: A Case- Control Study
Pinar Döner Güner,Sabahat Uslusoy Günes,Gül Ilhan,Sümeyya Havva Kokaçya,Emre Dirican,Mehmet Hanifi Kokaçya,Erhan Yengil,Cahit Özer
Konuralp Tip Dergisi. 2019; : 392
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Impact of Depression in Sickle Cell Disease Hospitalization-Related Outcomes: An Analysis of the National Inpatient Sample (NIS)
Bing-Mu Onyeaka,Bing-Mu Queeneth,Bing-Mu Rashid,Bing-Mu Ahmad,Bing-Mu Rajan,Bing-Mu Jaladi,Bing-Mu Patel
Medicina. 2019; 55(7): 385
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
   Materials and Me...
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded508    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 6    

Recommend this journal