Evidence-based interventions implemented in low-and middle-income countries for sickle cell disease management: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Joyce Gyamfi, Temitope Ojo, Sabrina Epou, Amy Diawara, Lotanna Dike, Deborah Adenikinju, Scholastica Enechukwu, Dorice Vieira, Obiageli Nnodu, Gbenga Ogedegbe, Emmanuel Peprah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Despite ~90% of sickle cell disease (SCD) occurring in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), the vast majority of people are not receiving evidence-based interventions (EBIs) to reduce SCD-related adverse outcomes and mortality, and data on implementation research outcomes (IROs) and SCD is limited. This study aims to synthesize available data on EBIs for SCD and assess IROs.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of RCTs reporting on EBIs for SCD management implemented in LMICs. We identified articles from PubMed/Medline, Global Health, PubMed Central, Embase, Web of Science medical subject heading (MeSH and Emtree) and keywords, published from inception through February 23, 2020, and conducted an updated search through December 24, 2020. We provide intervention characteristics for each study, EBI impact on SCD, and evidence of reporting on IROs.

MAIN RESULTS: 29 RCTs were analyzed. EBIs identified included disease modifying agents, supportive care agents/analgesics, anti-malarials, systemic treatments, patient/ provider education, and nutritional supplements. Studies using disease modifying agents, nutritional supplements, and anti-malarials reported improvements in pain crisis, hospitalization, children's growth and reduction in severity and prevalence of malaria. Two studies reported on the sustainability of supplementary arginine, citrulline, and daily chloroquine and hydroxyurea for SCD patients. Only 13 studies (44.8%) provided descriptions that captured at least three of the eight IROs. There was limited reporting of acceptability, feasibility, fidelity, cost and sustainability.

CONCLUSION: EBIs are effective for SCD management in LMICs; however, measurement of IROs is scarce. Future research should focus on penetration of EBIs to inform evidence-based practice and sustainability in the context of LMICs.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: This review is registered in PROSPERO #CRD42020167289.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0246700
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Anemia, Sickle Cell/pathology
  • Antisickling Agents/therapeutic use
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease Management
  • Evidence-Based Medicine/methods
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Poverty
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Treatment Outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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