Siblings of Children with Diabetes: Involvement, Understanding and Adaptation


Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK.


The psychosocial adjustment of 30 siblings (aged 8–18 years) of children with diabetes mellitus was studied. Although most were younger than the diabetic child, 55% were closely involved in the dietary management and insulin treatment of the diabetes, yet many had only a limited understanding of the disease. Most were well-adjusted. However, low levels of self-esteem were apparent among some subjects, who did not feel free to question their parents about diabetes (30%), who identified themselves as the member of the family most likely to receive blame (33%), and who reported spending more time at home with their families than their peers (40%). Nine children (30%) worried about becoming ill themselves. None believed that having a child with diabetes in the family had impaired relationships in the home. Six siblings (20%) also described some positive effects of the illness, particularly enhanced family closeness.