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Findings from the study emphasize the importance of disseminating knowledge and education to reduce disease burden after examining healthcare students' knowledge and attitudes towards sickle cell trait (SCT) screening in Ghana.
Positive perceptions towards premarital sickle cell trait (SCT) screening and genetic counseling are essential in reducing the disease burden of sickle cell disease (SCD), according to a recent investigation. However, the uptake of testing for sickle cell trait is hindered by several factors, including lack of knowledge and awareness.1
Results from the study suggested that age, source of information, and knowledge of sickle cell disease are elements that play an important role in shaping perceptions about the severity, susceptibility, benefits, and barriers to testing for SCD. William Kwaku Agbozo, Department of Physician Assistantship, Central University, and investigators concluded that these findings can inform interventions aimed at improving knowledge and attitudes towards sickle cell disease among young adults.
More than half (54.55%) of participants were between 20-24 years of age and most (71.18%) had good knowledge about sickle cell disease. A significant association was identified between having good knowledge of the disease and age and source of information–whether from school or social media.
Students in their early 20s and those with good knowledge were at least twice as likely to have a positive perception about sickle cell disease severity compared to the rest of the study population. Furthermore, findings showed that students with sickle cell trait, along with those who obtained information from family members/friends or social media, and those with good knowledge about sickle cell disease had a more positive perception of the susceptibility of the disease.
A favorable inclination toward the benefits of testing for sickle cell trait was more likely to be observed in students who obtained information from schools, and in participants with good knowledge. However, students with sickle cell trait and those who obtained information from social media were more likely to perceive barriers to testing.
In the assessment, investigators examined the knowledge and attitude towards premarital sickle cell trait screening among healthcare trainee students in Ghana, who were on track to become future healthcare practitioners. The team utilized a cross-sectional design, and quantitative data were collected from a total of 451 female students pursuing healthcare programs at a tertiary institution.
In Ghana, most people rely on healthcare practitioners to guide them on their health decisions, and limited information is available on the interest and attitude of healthcare professionals towards premarital sickle cell trait screening and genetic counseling. Because of this, investigators were motivated to explore the views of young female healthcare trainee students who are the next generation of healthcare practitioners in an attempt of aiding to bridge this gap.
Data demonstrated that the majority of participants were about to experience motherhood and make reproductive health decisions. Women's right to autonomous reproductive decision-making is constrained by various social, legal, religious, cultural, and family dynamics.
The team stated that promoting women's independent reproductive beliefs and choices is crucial and ultimately, the findings could help predict the influence they would have on the larger public female population and encourage them to actively participate in reproductive decision-making.
Overall, the investigation highlighted the importance of disseminating knowledge and education about sickle cell trait, sickle cell disease, and premarital genetic counseling, particularly in schools, to improve knowledge and perceptions of sickle cell disease and reduce the disease burden.
Investigators emphasized that future healthcare practitioners play a critical role in educating the public to undergo screening, and positive perceptions towards sickle cell trait testing and genetic counseling are essential in reducing the disease burden of the hemoglobin disorder.