Siblings, You Matter: Exploring the Needs of Adolescent Siblings of Children and Youth With Cancer

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Abstract

Purpose:

The purpose of the study was to further understanding and knowledge about the psychosocial needs of non-bereaved adolescent siblings who have a brother or sister with cancer.

Design and Methods:

Within a theoretical framework of phenomenology, retrospective narrative interviews were used to collect narrative interview data from 7 now-adult sisters of a sister (n = 4) or brother (n = 3) previously diagnosed with and treated for cancer. Inclusion criteria required participants to have been of adolescent-age (11–18 years) when a sibling was treated for cancer, and who had survived cancer. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results:

Eight need-based themes were identified. The needs for being a kid and for family humor, laughter, and light-heartedness, appear new to the existing literature's considerations of the needs of adolescent-aged well-siblings of children and youth with cancer.

Conclusion:

Findings extend the current literature by providing a different perspective of the needs of well-siblings during the cancer experience as specifically related to adolescent-aged well-siblings.

Practice implications:

It is important to separately recognize, understand, and support adolescent-aged well-siblings' needs during the cancer experience. It may also be useful for professionals to encourage and support the positive role of humor within families of children and youth receiving treatment for cancer. Follow-up support even years later may be helpful for well-siblings, including non-bereaved siblings.

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