Introduction: Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is one of the most common hereditary diseases in the world. The prevalence of SCD in Saudi Arabia varies greatly in different parts of the country, the highest prevalence in the eastern region, followed by the southwestern. The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) started a premarital national screening program for SCD in 2004. The main objective of this program is to reduce the prevalence of SCD in the population by reducing the number of at-risk marriages. Previous studies in Saudi Arabia have documented poor awareness in the population about the hereditary transmission of SCD, the associated complications, and the premarital screening services, despite their positive attitude towards the program.
Objectives: We aimed to assess the awareness about SCD among the high school students in AlQunfudah city. This will help to understand if there is a gap in awareness and serve as a need assessment study for future awareness programs.
Methods: A cross-sectional study based on an electronic questionnaire was distributed on social media to the high school students of AlQunfudah. The questionnaire consists of 13 questions to assess the patients’ knowledge and awareness of SCD. Categorical were presented as frequency and percentages. A Chi-square test was used to test for association.
Results: A total of 428 high school students have filled the survey. 320 (71.70%) have heard about sickle cell disease before. The majority of students knew what causes SCD and how it is diagnosed, (70.30%) and (55.10%) respectively. However, only 33.40% knew how much of the children would be affected by the disease if both parents are affected. When asked if participants are willing to marry a partner with SCD, only (23.10%) said yes. A significant difference in answering was found when comparing the pattern of answers across gender, age, and marital state.
Conclusion: The knowledge of the disease varied from one aspect to another with an overall moderate level. However, there was an overall excellent attitude toward SCD. It showed a healthy behavior toward marriage decisions reflecting a high understanding of the SCD burden.