Psychologic adjustment of siblings of children with chronic illness

J. V. Lavigne, M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Although numerous references are made to the stressful, deleterious effects of chronic or terminal illnesses and handicaps on the siblings of pediatric patients, very few studies have been conducted using comparison groups. The present study compares the adjustment of 3- to 13-yr-old siblings of pediatric hematology (N=62), cardiology (N=57), and plastic surgery patients (N=37) with healthy siblings (N=46). The adjustment measure was an objective, paper-and-pencil measure of children's emotional and behavioral problems, the Louisville Behavior Checklist. On analyses of covariance, the patient groups were more likely to show symptoms of irritability and social withdrawal, and the differences between illness groups approached significance on measures of fear and inhibition. Among the younger children, ages 3 to 6, there were significant group differences, with the siblings of patients undergoing plastic surgery showing the highest level of general psychopathology. Among children ages 7 to 13, male siblings of patients with blood disorders were more likely to show signs of emotional disturbance than female siblings. No group differences were noted on measures of aggression or learning problems. Significant interactions between sex and age relationship to the child were noted on scales of social withdrawal, inhibition, immaturity, and irritability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-627
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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