Sibling voices: The self-reported mental health of siblings of children with a disability
Article first published online: 16 DEC 2011
© 2011 The Australian Psychological Society
Special Issue: Children and Health Psychology
Volume 16, Issue 1, pages 36–43, March 2012
How to Cite
GIALLO, R., GAVIDIA-PAYNE, S., MINETT, B. and KAPOOR, A. (2012), Sibling voices: The self-reported mental health of siblings of children with a disability. Clinical Psychologist, 16: 36–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-9552.2011.00035.x
Conflict of interest: None.
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 16 DEC 2011
- Received 27 May 2011; accepted 7 September 2011.
- mental health;
Background: There is increasing interest in the experiences and well-being of siblings growing up with a brother or sister with a disability in Australia. However, research to date has primarily obtained parent reports of sibling adjustment and mental health. Therefore, the aim of the current study was threefold: (1) to report on the mental health of siblings using a self-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ); (2) to compare sibling mental health with Australian normative data on the SDQ; and (3) to identify socio-demographic and disability characteristics associated with sibling mental health difficulties.
Methods: Participants were 52 siblings (aged 10–18 years) of children with varying disabilities.
Results: Although siblings reported significantly more emotional and behavioural problems than a normative sample, the majority of siblings reported overall good mental health within the normal range on all SDQ subscales. Approximately 20–30% of siblings were identified as at-risk or in the clinical range for overall difficulties, hyperactivity-inattention, conduct and peer problems; and 15% at-risk or in the clinical range for emotional symptoms and prosocial behaviour. Socio-demographic and disability characteristics were not associated with mental health difficulties.
Conclusions: A small proportion of siblings are at risk of emotional and behavioural problems. Implications for future research, policy, and clinical practice are discussed.