The effect of structural violence on patients with sickle cell disease

Nathan C. Bahr, John Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a burdensome and prevalent condition predominantly seen in populations of African heritage. Treatments for SCD, particularly those related to pain crisis, are largely insufficient. We argue that it is through structural violence—a systemic series of policies, institutions, and practices—that individuals who live with SCD suffer from health disparities. Similarly, we argue against other suggested mechanisms and causes, such as purely economic factors or low public interest and knowledge. We shall do this in part by comparing the systemic response to SCD to that of Cystic Fibrosis (CF), another genetic based illness with similar prevalence. Notably, CF that affects a very different target population, and has very different research, funding, and treatment trajectories. Underlying these arguments is the hypothesis that structural violence can harm a population in a developed nation just as it can in a developing one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-661
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Meharry Medical College.


  • Health care disparities
  • Research support
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Structural violence


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