Corinna Schultz, MD, Shares How Pediatricians Can Discuss Sickle Cell Trait With Patients, Families


According to Dr. Corinna Schultz, a key part of the conversation of sickle cell trait (SCT) is centered around reproductive choices for the patient in the future.

According to new research, pediatricians recognize the importance of discussing the presence of sickle cell trait (SCT) in newborn screening, however, their confidence in how to discuss it is lacking. Lead investigator Corinna Schultz, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Nemours Children's Health explained that the conversation needs to continue beyond the initial screening results.

"They're often discussing just that the child has sickle cell trait, and not necessarily talking about inheritance patterns, or potential medical complications, or reproductive decision making in the future," she said in an interview with HCPLive.

The study which Schultz presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition, surveyed a large population of pediatricians and primary care physicians (PCPs) to evaluate the understanding of SCT in this setting.

"Sometimes it was the awareness, that we should be talking about sickle cell trait, but not always the awareness of what we should be talking about within sickle cell trait," she said. "So, knowing that we should say the words, but not necessarily knowing that there are medical complications that can come with sickle cell trait, or how to answer questions about those, or where to direct people to if they wanted more information."

Schultz mentioned a key part of the conversation is centered around reproductive choices for the patient in the future. She believes providers are hesitant to initiate the conversation because they don't want to risk the patient or the family interpreting the discussion as authoritarian instructions instead of an open consultant about options.

"I really take the opposite viewpoint of this," Schultz shared, "that by not talking about it, I am dictating what somebody can do with their future."

For more of HCPLive's interview with Dr. Corinna Schultz on her sickle cell trait research, check out the other articles.

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