Psychosocial aspects and psychiatric disorders in young adult with thalassemia major

Giuseppina Messina, Elisa Colombo, Elena Cassinerio, Francesca Ferri, Rita Curti, Carlo Altamura, Maria Domenica Cappellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beta-thalassemia major (TM), a chronic, genetically determined hematological disorder, has received little investigation on the psychological aspects of the disease and the psychosocial adjustment of patients with this anemia. Unfortunately, the few psychological studies referred on the literature are generally limited to the investigation of the only children with thalassemia major. The study was planned to assess the self-image, the quality of life, the way of coping and to investigate the existence of psychiatric disorders in young adults with thalassemia major. 147 patients were included in the study. Patients were psychologically investigated by three interviews: the first connects some psychosocial information, the second submits patients to the psychological test and the third gives back the results obtained by the test. The psychological test consists of the ways of coping questionnaire (WCQ), the Machover's test, The short form 36-health survey questionnaire (SF-36) and symptom-check-list-90 revised (SCL-90-R) were performed on all patients. Vis-à-vis identity and self-image were found to be low with feeling of insufficiency and being exposed to vulnerability in 80% of patients with TM. Evaluation of mean values of symptomatological dimensions in these patients showed a personality characterized by somatization (SOM), depression (DEP) and obsessive-compulsive traits. The principal coping strategy used is escape-avoidance. No statistically significant differences occurred to relation to gender, age, level education and SCL-90-R and WCQ scores. Estimation of the SF-36 scores showed that the emotional role and social function values were considerably lower than in all of the domain. As a result, the study showed that most of the patients with TM had severe psychosocial problems. Relying on these data, it was concluded that medical therapy of these patients should be supported with psychological aid and psychiatric treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalInternal and Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Coping
  • Self-image and quality of life
  • Somatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Internal Medicine


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