Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lindsey Cohen

Second Advisor

Lisa Armistead

Third Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc

Fourth Advisor

Ciara Smalls Glover


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most commonly inherited blood disorder in the U.S., predominately affects the Black/African American population, and is characterized by unpredictable episodes of pain / vaso-occlusive episodes (VOEs) that often require hospitalization. As compared to younger and older patients, adolescents have been shown to have longer and more frequent hospitalizations for VOEs, which are associated with increased depressive symptoms and diminished health-related quality of life (HRQOL), which may be exacerbated by perceived racial discrimination – an understudied issue in pediatric SCD. The aim of this study was to explore how perceived racial discrimination impacts HRQOL, depressive symptoms, and hospital utilization, and whether access to support from individuals of similar experiential background would buffer against the negative effects of perceived discrimination. Results indicated that perceived discrimination increases depressive symptoms, which in turn decreases HRQOL; however, this negative effect is buffered by access to support from individuals with SCD. Hospital utilization was not related to key study variables. Clinical implications regarding bolstering support for adolescents with SCD are discussed, as this support may have a prophylactic effect against the sequelae associated with perceived racial discrimination.