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The Comfort Ability Program for Sickle Cell Pain

In collaboration with Yale Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, the YCSC is excited to offer the Comfort Ability Program for Sickle Cell Pain!

Kids, teens, and young adults with Sickle Cell Disease often experience pain crises. This can make it harder to complete day-to-day activities, such as spending time with friends and attending school. It can also affect school performance and mood.

Over 20 years of research shows that some psychological strategies for pain management can help. This is why the Comfort Ability Program for Sickle Cell Pain was created!

It is a fun and interactive workshop to help children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 8 and up) learn how to better manage pain and improve functioning. The workshop offers evidence-based strategies for pain management that can be used along with the youth’s pain plan.

The program is directed by Dr. Areti Vassilopoulos, a pediatric health psychologist, in collaboration with Dr. Lyn Balsamo, a licensed psychologist for the Yale Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program.

During the program, families:

  • Hear a hematologist explain adaptive health behaviors in managing Sickle Cell Pain
  • Learn mind-body skills to manage pain and stress
  • Connect with peers who also have Sickle Cell Disease
  • Develop a personal plan for comfort and function
Where was it Developed?

The Comfort Ability Program for Sickle Cell Pain was developed at Boston Children’s Hospital by Dr. Rachael Coakley, in collaboration with Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

What's the Goal?

The goal is to increase comfort and ability to complete everyday life activities and responsibilities, and to give families all the information and strategies with hands-on practice to manage pain.

What Happens in the Workshop

This is a one-day workshop lasting about 3 hours. Families meet with the Comfort Ability Program team, as well as other kids, teens, and young adults with Sickle Cell Disease. During the Workshop, families speak together, watch videos, practice new skills, and learn new helpful ways to manage pain.

Who Can Attend?

Kids, teens, and young adults 8 years old or older with Sickle Cell Disease are eligible. Families receive Comfort Ability Program booklets, as well as a Comfort Kit filled with items to continue practicing new skills learned during the workshop at home!


The workshop takes place in person, in New Haven and Trumbull Yale New Haven Hospital locations.

  • October 11th, 2023 A date for the next workshop at Yale New Haven Health Park Avenue Medical Center (Trumbull, CT)

This is FREE to Yale New Haven Hospital patients and families!


Sil, S., Lee, J. L., Klosky, J., Vaz, A., Mee, L., Cochran, S., Thompson, B., & Coakley, R. (2021). The comfort ability program for adolescents with sickle cell pain: Evaluating feasibility and acceptability of an inpatient group-based clinical implementation. Pediatric blood & cancer, 68(6), e29013.

Wihak, T. , Burns, M. , Miranda, J. , Windmueller, G. , Oakley, C. & Coakley, R. (2020). Development and Feasibility Testing of the Comfort Ability Program for Sickle Cell Pain. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 8 (2), 150-163. doi: 10.1037/cpp0000326.