Psychological adjustment of well siblings of children with Type 1 diabetes


F. J. Cameron, Head of Diabetes Services, Royal Children’s Hospital Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia. E-mail:


Diabet. Med. 27, 1084–1087 (2010)


Aims  Studies of siblings of children with Type 1 diabetes (Type 1 DM) have shown either increased levels of maladjustment or, alternatively, increased levels of pro-social behaviour according to whether the sibling or parent was interviewed. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological adjustment of Type 1 DM siblings using both parent and sibling report and to assess the concordance between child and parent reports.

Methods  Ninety-nine siblings aged 11–17 years and parents of children with Type 1 DM treated at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne were recruited sequentially. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to assess well siblings’ emotional and behavioural functioning using data collected within a semi-structured interview. SDQ data between the sibling cohort and normative data sample were compared using independent-samples t-tests. Sibling reports and parent reports were compared using a series of paired-sample t-tests and correlation analyses.

Results  Type 1 DM siblings did not report greater emotional or behavioural maladjustment or more pro-social behaviour than norms. Parents rated siblings’ pro-social behaviour as being comparable with that of youth from the general community; however, parents rated healthy siblings as having lower levels of maladjustment; specifically, significantly fewer conduct problems, hyperactive behaviour and peer-related problems (all P < 0.01). There were no significant differences between parent ratings and sibling ratings on peer-related problems or pro-social behaviour.

Conclusions  Type 1 DM siblings did not report increased behavioural or emotional dysfunction relative to children in the general population and, according to their parents, were even better adjusted than their peers.