Well Sibling Psychological Adjustment to Chronic Physical Disorder in a Sibling: How Important is Maternal Awareness of Their Illness Attitudes and Perceptions?



The psychological adjustment of healthy siblings was investigated in relation to their attitudes and perceptions about their brother's or sister's chronic physical disorder, to their mothers’ awareness of these attitudes and perceptions, and to three other maternal factors (maternal distress, maternal social support, and amount of care demanded by the physical disorder). Sixty-two well siblings and mothers of children with a range of chronic physical disorders completed standardised questionnaires. The majority of siblings did not appear to have adjustment problems, although the sample had slightly increased rates of emotional symptoms compared to the general population. Mothers rated well siblings as having more negative attitudes and perceptions about the physical disorder than reported by siblings themselves. A multiple regression analysis indicated that better sibling adjustment was associated with higher maternal awareness of their attitudes and perceptions. These findings support Varni and Wallander's (1998) model that emphasises the role of relationship and attitude variables in child adjustment to chronic physical disorder. The implications of these findings for clinical practice are discussed.