Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Successful quality improvement project to increase hydroxyurea prescriptions for children with sickle cell anaemia


Hydroxyurea (HU) is an effective but underused disease-modifying therapy for patients with sickle cell anaemia (SCA). EMBRACE SCD, a sickle cell disease treatment demonstration project, aimed to improve access to HU by increasing prescription (Rx) rates by at least 10% from baseline in children with SCA.

The Model for Improvement was used as the quality improvement framework. HU Rx was assessed from clinical databases in three paediatric haematology centres. Children aged 9 months–18 years with SCA not on chronic transfusions were eligible for HU treatment. The health belief model was the conceptual framework to discuss with patients and promote HU acceptance. A visual aid showing erythrocytes under the effect of HU and the American Society of Hematology HU brochure were used as educational tools. At least 6 months after offering HU, a Barrier Assessment Questionnaire was given to assess reasons for HU acceptance and refusals. If HU was declined, the providers discussed with family again. We conducted chart audits to find missed opportunities to prescribe HU as one plan–do–study–act cycle.

At initial measurement, 50.2% of 524 eligible patients had HU prescribed. During the testing and initial implementation phase, the mean performance after 10 data points was 53%. After 2 years, the mean performance was 59%, achieving an 11% increase in mean performance and a 29% increase from initial to the last measurement (64.8% HU Rx). During a 15-month period, 32.1% (N=168) of the eligible patients who were offered HU completed the barrier questionnaire with 19% (N=32) refusing HU, mostly based on not perceiving enough severity of their children’s SCA or fearing side effects.

Reviewing patient charts for missed opportunity of offering HU with feedback and evaluating the reasons of declining HU via a questionnaire were key components in increasing HU Rx in our population.

  • Chronic disease management
  • Healthcare quality improvement
  • Paediatrics

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The data to make the charts are available upon reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles