Siblings' needs and issues when a brother or sister dies of cancer.

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, SE-416 85 Göteborg, Sweden.
Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing (Impact Factor: 0.87). 01/2005; 22(4):227-33. DOI: 10.1177/1043454205274722
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To explore siblings'needs and issues when a brother or sister dies of cancer, interviews were conducted with 10 surviving children and young adults. The siblings expressed dissatisfaction with the information they had received and said that they had not felt involved in the dying process with the exception of the terminal period. The siblings stated that their dissatisfaction would have been reduced if doctors and nurses had provided continuous information and support. Loneliness, anxiety, anger, and jealousy were common feelings that they expressed. Friends and school were important to the siblings, representing a normal environment free from the domination of sickness. The siblings also expressed that they needed to mourn in their own way including periods of time when they did not mourn. The absence of the dead sibling was felt particularly during family celebrations. The siblings continued to have special memories and objects, and all still included the dead sibling as a member in the family.

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    ABSTRACT: Context. The death of a child from cancer affects the entire family. Little is known about the long-term psychosocial outcomes of bereaved siblings. Objectives To describe: 1) the prevalence of risky health behaviors, psychological distress, and social support among bereaved siblings; and 2) potentially modifiable factors associated with poor outcomes. Methods Bereaved siblings were eligible for this dual-center, cross-sectional, survey-based study if they were 16 years old or older and their parents had enrolled in one of three prior studies about caring for children with cancer at the end of life. Linear regression models identified associations between personal perspectives before, during, and after the family’s cancer experience and outcomes (health behaviors, psychological distress, and social support). Results Fifty-eight siblings completed surveys (62% response rate). They were approximately 12 years bereaved, with a mean age of 26 years at the time of the survey (SD=7.8). Anxiety, depression, and illicit substance use increased during the year following their brother/sister’s death, but then returned to baseline. Siblings who reported dissatisfaction with communication, poor preparation for death, missed opportunities to say “goodbye,” and/or a perceived negative impact of the cancer experience on relationships tended to have higher distress and lower social support scores (P<0.001-0.031). Almost all siblings reported their loss still affected them; half stated the experience impacted current educational and career goals. Conclusion How siblings experience the death of a child with cancer may impact their long-term psychosocial well-being. Sibling-directed communication and concurrent supportive care during the cancer experience and the year following sibling death may mitigate poor long-term outcomes.
    Journal of pain and symptom management 01/2014; In Press. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined participation factors in a study of families (N = 84) within 1 year of a child's cancer-related death. Specific aims were to examine associations between: (a) recruitment variables (number of phone calls made to eligible families, number of calls answered by eligible families) and participation rates (study agreement and refusal) and (b) characteristics of deceased children (gender, age, length of illness, time since death) and participation rates. Characteristics of deceased children did not differ between participating and non-participating families. Researchers made significantly fewer calls to participating versus refusing families. Participating families most often agreed during the first successful call connection, and more calls did not mean more recruitment success. Thus, it is reasonable to limit the number of calls made to bereaved families. Despite recruitment challenges, many bereaved parents and siblings are willing and interested to participate in grief research.
    Progress in Palliative Care 04/2014; 22(2):75-79.