Knowledge, attitude and control practices of sickle cell disease among youth corps members in Benin City, Nigeria
Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a major public health problem in Nigeria. Carrier prevalence is about 25% and it affects about 2 – 3% of the Nigerian population. The disease runs a chronic course, characterized by recurrent ill-health, progressive organ damage and shortened life-span. There is a need for SCD control through public education and other preventive measures.
Objectives: This study aimed at assessing the level of knowledge regarding SCD among a cross-section of new tertiary graduates in Nigeria, as well as factors influencing their knowledge. It also describes their attitudes and patterns of control practices engaged by the respondents regarding SCD.
Methods: This was an analytic, cross-sectional study among 370 new tertiary graduates (youth corps members) in Benin City, Nigeria. Bio data, data on knowledge, their attitude and control practices of sickle cell disease were obtained using a structured questionnaire. Association between the mean level of knowledge and other variables such as age, gender, course of study, etc were tested using one way analysis of variance.
Results: Most of the study participants were aged 22 - 29 years. A large proportion (63.5%) of the respondents was females. Only 17.8% of the respondents had a good knowledge of SCD despite high level of awareness (98.4%). Those who studied courses related to medical sciences had significantly higher mean knowledge score. About 94.6% of the respondents knew their SCD carrier status and 80.8% were willing to avoid carrier marriages. Only 38.1% will accept prenatal diagnosis/selective abortion if locally available.
Conclusion: Most participants demonstrated moderate level of public health knowledge regarding SCD in Nigeria. Considering the relative lack of prenatal diagnostic services, low acceptability of selective abortion among the respondents, sub-optimal care of affected persons and poor access to haemopoeitic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in our environment, stronger efforts should be directed and sustained at primary prevention through public education and screening regarding SCD.
Keywords: Knowledge, Attitude and practice, Sickle cell disease, New tertiary graduates, Youth corps members