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Integration of Mobile Health Into Sickle Cell Disease Care to Increase Hydroxyurea Utilization: Protocol for an Efficacy and Implementation Study

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Hydroxyurea prevents disease complications among patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Although its efficacy has been endorsed by the National Health Lung and Blood Institute evidence-based guidelines, its adoption is low, both by patients with SCD and providers. Mobile health (mHealth) apps provide benefits in improving medication adherence and self-efficacy among patients with chronic diseases and have facilitated prescription among medical providers. However, mHealth has not been systematically tested as a tool to increase hydroxyurea adherence nor has the combination of mHealth been assessed at both patient and provider levels to increase hydroxyurea utilization.


This study aims to increase hydroxyurea utilization through a combined two-level mHealth intervention for both patients with SCD and their providers with the goals of increasing adherence to hydroxyurea among patients and improve hydroxyurea prescribing behavior among providers.


We will test the efficacy of 2 mHealth interventions to increase both patient and provider utilization and knowledge of hydroxyurea in 8 clinical sites of the NHLBI-funded Sickle Cell Disease Implementation Consortium (SCDIC). The patient mHealth intervention, InCharge Health, includes multiple components that address memory, motivation, and knowledge barriers to hydroxyurea use. The provider mHealth intervention, Hydroxyurea Toolbox (HU Toolbox), addresses the clinical knowledge barriers in prescribing and monitoring hydroxyurea. The primary hypothesis is that among adolescents and adults with SCD, adherence to hydroxyurea, as measured by the proportion of days covered (the ratio of the number of days the patient is covered by the medication to the number of days in the treatment period), will increase by at least 20% after 24 weeks of receiving the InCharge Health app, compared with their adherence at baseline. As secondary objectives, we will (1) examine the change in health-related quality of life, acute disease complications, perceived health literacy, and perceived self-efficacy in taking hydroxyurea among patients who use InCharge Health and (2) examine potential increases in the awareness of hydroxyurea benefits and risks, appropriate prescribing, and perceived self-efficacy to correctly administer hydroxyurea therapy among SCD providers between baseline and 9 months of using the HU Toolbox app. We will measure the reach, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of both the InCharge Health and the HU Toolbox apps using the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance framework and qualitatively evaluate the implementation of both mHealth interventions.


The study is currently enrolling study participants. Recruitment is anticipated to be completed by mid-2021.


If this two-level intervention, that is, the combined use of InCharge Health and HU Toolbox apps, demonstrates efficacy in increasing adherence to hydroxyurea and prescribing behavior in patients with SCD and their providers, respectively, both apps will be offered to other institutions outside the SCDIC through a future large-scale implementation-effectiveness study.

Trial registration NCT04080167;

International registered report identifier (irrid)


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