The Emotional Experience and Perceived Changes in Siblings of Children With Cancer Reported During a Group Intervention

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Abstract

Purpose/Objectives:

To examine the experiences and perceived changes in siblings of children with cancer while participating in a group intervention program.

Research Approach:

Repeated observations during group participation and content analysis.

Setting:

A tertiary pediatric health center in Ontario, Canada. Participants: Twenty-two siblings (aged 7–18 years) of children with cancer.

Methodologic Approach:

Siblings participated in the Siblings Coping Together program, an eight-week group intervention designed for this population. Data consisted of materials completed by siblings (49 homework sheets, 33 pieces of artwork), and 31 logs recording events within group sessions.

Findings:

Three categories emerged from the data: (a) siblings’ emotional experience (related to cancer, their affected brother or sister, and the family), (b) siblings’ role change (increased responsibility; becoming a caregiver, helper, and entertainer for the ill child), and (c) changes during the eight-week group intervention (bonding with other siblings; increased participation, trust, and interactions; increased coping strategies).

Conclusions:

These findings provide rich insight into siblings’ own views of changes in themselves and within the family, as well as the perceived benefits of group participation.

Interpretation:

Methodologically, this study demonstrated that the inclusion of visual materials as data is a valid methodology for future research. Clinically, these findings can help nurses in their daily care of children with cancer and their families.

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