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Keywords:

  • health services;
  • siblings;
  • systematic review

Aim:  Chronic illness or disability in children can have a deleterious effect on the psychosocial health of well siblings. This systematic review synthesised evidence from studies evaluating sibling-oriented care aimed at improving behavioural and emotional outcomes in well siblings of children with chronic illness or disability.

Methods:  Twenty electronic databases were searched. Study selection, data extraction and assessment of methodological quality were performed by two independent reviewers.

Results:  Five controlled and nine uncontrolled studies were included. In higher-quality controlled trials, benefits of sibling-oriented care included reduced anxiety, improved mood and behavioural adjustment; however, these findings were not consistently demonstrated across studies. Study differences made it difficult to determine which sibling care features were most salient.

Conclusions:  Study findings highlight the potential for enhancing emotional and behavioural outcomes in well siblings. Future evaluations need to clearly identify the intended purpose of the care (what improvements are intended) and which types of siblings are most likely to benefit. This approach may yield more consistent and clinically important results.