BACKGROUND: The management of acute and chronic pain for individuals living with sickle cell disease (SCD) is a clinical challenge. This reflects the paucity of clinical SCD pain research and limited understanding of the complex biological differences between acute and chronic pain. These issues collectively create barriers to effective, targeted interventions. Optimal pain management requires interdisciplinary care. OBJECTIVE: These evidence-based guidelines developed by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) are intended to support patients, clinicians, and other health care professionals in pain management decisions for children and adults with SCD. METHODS: ASH formed a multidisciplinary panel, including 2 patient representatives, that was thoroughly vetted to minimize bias from conflicts of interest. The Mayo Evidence-Based Practice Research Program supported the guideline development process, including updating or performing systematic reviews. Clinical questions and outcomes were prioritized according to importance for clinicians and patients. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used, including GRADE evidence-to-decision frameworks, to assess evidence and make recommendations, which were subject to public comment. RESULTS: The panel reached consensus on 18 recommendations specific to acute and chronic pain. The recommendations reflect a broad pain management approach, encompassing pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions and analgesic delivery. CONCLUSIONS: Because of low-certainty evidence and closely balanced benefits and harms, most recommendations are conditional. Patient preferences should drive clinical decisions. Policymaking, including that by payers, will require substantial debate and input from stakeholders. Randomized controlled trials and comparative-effectiveness studies are needed for chronic opioid therapy, nonopioid therapies, and nonpharmacological interventions.
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