Motivators and Barriers to Physical Activity among Youth with Sickle Cell Disease: Brief Review

Olalekan Olatokunbo Olorunyomi, Robert Ie Liem, Lewis Li Yen Hsu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Health disparities for minority groups include a low rate of physical activity and underserved urban minority youth with chronic disease are among the least active population segments, as exemplified by sickle cell disease (SCD). “Exercise prescriptions” for youth with chronic diseases need to be evidence based and align with psychologic motivators and barriers. This scoping review sought evidence for psychosocial motivators or barriers to physical activity (PA) in youth with SCD and other chronic disease that could be relevant to SCD. Methods: Five databases were searched for studies on urban minority youth published between 2009 and 2022. Results: Keyword searching yielded no papers on SCD and PA motivation and barriers. Adding health-related quality of life (HRQL) in SCD found eleven relevant papers. Widening the search to chronic disease in minority youth resulted in a total of 49 papers. Three thematic categories and seven sub-themes emerged. PA barriers added by chronic disease include fear of triggering disease complications, negative relationships due to disease limitations on performance in sports, and lack of suitable environment for PA that accommodates the chronic disease. PA motivators are similar for youth without chronic disease: self-efficacy, autonomy, positive relationships with peers and parents and coach/teacher. Conclusion: Direct descriptions of PA motivations and barriers to PA in SCD are limited to fatigue and fear of sickle vaso-occlusive pain. The PA barriers and motivators found for urban youth with chronic disease overlap with themes in healthy adolescents from underserved minorities. Community-based interventions could strengthen PA motivators (self-efficacy, autonomy, positive relationships with peers and parents and coach/teacher) but need disease accommodations to overcome the barriers (fear of triggering disease complications, environmental limitations, and negative relationships). Evidence-based exercise prescriptions might incorporate educational modules to overcome disease stigma and misconceptions. Prospective studies of PA motivators and barriers could improve HRQL in SCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number572
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • adolescents
  • behaviors
  • exercise
  • facilitators
  • obstacles
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Motivators and Barriers to Physical Activity among Youth with Sickle Cell Disease: Brief Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this