Impact of End-of-Life Circumstances on the Adjustment of Bereaved Siblings of Children Who Died from Cancer. Journal Article

Authors: Kenney, AE; Tutelman, PR; Fisher, RS; Lipak, KG; Barrera, M; Gilmer, MJ; Fairclough, D; Akard, TF; Compas, BE; Davies, B; Hogan, NS; Vannatta, K; Gerhardt, CA
Article Title: Impact of End-of-Life Circumstances on the Adjustment of Bereaved Siblings of Children Who Died from Cancer.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to examine the impact of end-of-life (EoL) circumstances on grief and internalizing symptoms among bereaved siblings. Bereaved families (N?=?88) were recruited from three sites 3-12 months (M?=?11.57, SD?=?3.48) after their child's death from cancer. One sibling per family aged 8-17 years (M?=?12.41, SD?=?2.64) was randomly selected to participate. Families completed measures of siblings' grief and internalizing symptoms, as well as a structured interview about circumstances surrounding the death. Mother and sibling reports of EoL circumstances were generally concordant, except there was a discrepancy between mothers and children about whether or not children expected their sibling's death (t(75)?=?1.52, p?=?.018). Mother reports of sibling internalizing symptoms were above the normative mean (t(83)?=?4.44, p?=?.001 (M?=?56.01?±?12.48), with 39% (n?=?33) in the borderline/clinical range. Sibling opportunity to say goodbye was associated with greater grief-related growth (t(79)?=?- 1.95, p?=?.05). Presence at the death and wishing they had done something differently were both associated with greater grief (t(80)?=?- 2.08, p?=?.04 and t(80)?=?- 2.24, p?=?.028, respectively) and grief-related growth (t(80)?=?- 2.01, p?=?.048 and t(80)?=?- 2.31, p?=?.024, respectively). However, findings were primarily unique to sibling report, with few mother-reported effects. The adjustment of bereaved siblings may be affected by certain modifiable circumstances surrounding the death of their brother or sister. A proportion of bereaved siblings had elevated internalizing symptoms irrespective of circumstances at EoL. Further work is needed to understand predictors of adjustment among bereaved siblings to provide better support and optimize their outcomes.
Journal Title: Journal of clinical psychology in medical settings
Publisher: Unknown  
Date Published: 2021