Understanding the experiences and service needs of siblings of individuals with first-episode psychosis: a phenomenological study


  • Correction added after online publication 23 September 2011: affiliation for Nigel Wellman

  • Addresses of institutions at which the work was carried out:

  • 1. Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – Early Intervention in Psychosis Service. Trust Headquarters, 2nd Floor Fitzwilliam House, Skimped Hill Lane, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 1BQ.

  • 2. West London Mental Health NHS Trust – Hammersmith & Fulham Early Intervention in Psychosis Service. Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF.

  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

  • Funding: none.

  • Ethical Approval: Ethical approval was given by the Berkshire NHS Research.

  • Ethics Committee – reference number 06/Q16022/157.

Miss Jacqueline Sin, King's College London, James Clerk Maxwell Building, 57 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8WA, UK. E-mail: jacqueline@urbanfuture.org


Background: Despite recent focus on developing family-inclusive services to meet the needs of young people with first-episode psychosis, the needs of their siblings are often overlooked.

Aims: This study explored the experiences and needs of siblings of young adults with first-episode psychosis receiving support from two Early Intervention in Psychosis Services in South-East England.

Methods: Thirty-one siblings aged 11–35 years, were given a semi-structured interview to gather their perspectives and accounts of their lived experiences. The resultant rich qualitative data was analysed using responsive-reader and framework methods.

Results: Six themes were identified: siblings' roles and involvement; emotions; impact on relationships; coping patterns; resilience; and siblings' service needs.

Conclusion: All participants had been greatly affected by the onset of the psychosis in their brother or sister. Most siblings did not identify themselves as carers, although most played a significant part in their brother's or sister's life. Participants wanted dynamic, robust and accessible services, especially information and peer support to meet their needs.