Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Cecelia Valrie


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a prevalent genetic disorder involving red blood cells. SCD is a multisystem disease and is connected to various severe medical complications, including debilitating pain. Though pain and inflammation have been connected to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in other populations, no prior work has investigated ACEs within a SCD population. The current study examined the prevalence of ACEs as well as the association of ACEs, inflammation, and pain in a sample of youth and young adults with SCD. Utilizing the biopsychosocial model of pain, I examined individual and cumulative ACEs as possible factors relating to inflammation, pain severity and pain frequency. Self-report measures of ACEs, pain severity and pain frequency were completed by a sample of adolescents and young adults with SCD (N= 21; mean age = 17.57 years). Further, within the overall sample, 14 participants reported pain and 7 participants had C-reactive protein (CRP) reports. CRP, an inflammatory biomarker was collected via blood samples drawn from routine clinic visits. Approximately half of the current sample reported exposure to at least one ACE, suggesting a high prevalence of ACE exposure within a youth SCD population. Cumulative ACEs did not relate to inflammation or pain. However, our findings do suggest that inflammation and pain outcomes are associated with individual ACE types, specifically financial hardship, racial discrimination, and divorce, though not always in the direction hypothesized. The study findings support the importance of taking into consideration the differential impact of different individual ACEs and their relationships to inflammation and pain within a SCD population.


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