Siblings of chronically ill and/or disabled persons - a look at stress and resources


  • M. Jagla
  • A. Trachte
  • A. Zeuner
  • G.H. Franke


Background: Being a sibling of a person with a chronic illness and/ or disability is often associated with increased psychological distress and lower quality of life, which are often triggered by stress and overburdening. Methods: The results of interviews with 10 experts (38 years) and 10 now adult siblings (28 years) were used to formulate 22 items assigned to the three areas distress, resources and impact on live. Sociodemographic data, the 22 items as well as other psychological constructs were collected. Results: In total, N=1000 adult siblings (29 years ±11, 81% female) participated in the study. 290 were affected siblings (31 years, ±11, 88% female); regarding to sociodemographic data they differed statistically significantly from the n=710 siblings (28 years, ±10, 78% female) who were used as a comparative sample. Suitable subjects from this sample were filtered out and 290 pairs were matched. The comparison of affected and non-affected siblings showed statistically significantly differences in a simultaneous examination of the three areas (F=50.64, p<.0001, ŋ2=.132); affected siblings reported more distress, fewer resources and more impact on their lives. Conclusion: Siblings of chronically ill and/ or handicapped persons reported retrospectively that they felt significantly more distressed in comparison to siblings of healthy children because of their life situation. They had fewer resources and more impacts on their own lives. Since siblings are a risk group, they should be offered support and mutual exchange of experiences in their childhood and youth as well as in adult life.





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