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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Kay Foland


famil relationships with chronically ill children, brothers and sisters attitudes


The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experience of a well child living at home with a chronically ill sibling. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted. Data obtained through personal interviews was used to capture the children's experience of living at home with a chronically ill brother or sister. The sample consisted of twelve children, nine of whom were female, between the ages of eight and seventeen, who had lived and were living with a chronically ill sibling at home. Each participant was interviewed using a semi-structured interview tool. Interview responses were analyzed using content analysis procedures.
Six major categories emerged from the responses, respectively; empathy, normalization, frustration, caretaking, togetherness, and hope. Siblings of chronically ill children in this study demonstrated a great deal of empathy toward both their ill brother or sister and their parents. They expressed a deep sense of caring for them, worry about them, and were sensitive to perceived unfairness allotted to them. In addition, the siblings expressed a sense of caring beyond themselves, to immediate others and to the world around them. Sibling responses demonstrated the disparity between the desire for normalization and recognition that the ill child is actually not "normal". In addition, well siblings expressed some frustration with the inequities in household responsibilities and the demands these placed upon their time. They were sometimes frustrated with resistance on the part of their ill siblings. Caretaking was discussed by well siblings in terms of tasks and protective behaviors. Well children expressed togetherness, both with the family as a whole and with their siblings, as an important part of their lives. They spoke of being together, working together and playing together. Hope emerged from the responses of the well children as a subdominant theme, but was usually expressed in terms of the ill sibling becoming "better" or being healed all together. In this study, well siblings spoke for themselves concerning their experiences of living at home with a chronically ill brother or sister.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Chronically ill children -- Family relationships
Brothers and sisters -- Attitudes



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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