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Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2009;13(4):326-37. doi: 10.3109/13651500903141400.

The forgotten caregivers: Siblings of schizophrenic patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


Objective. The situation of caregivers of psychiatric patients is mostly focussed on burdens of parents or spouses of patients. The burden of siblings due to the illness, however, is mostly underestimated and disregarded. Methods. Thirty-seven narrative interviews with siblings of schizophrenia inpatients were analysed by using a summarizing content analysis. The founded global statements were quantitatively analysed. Regression-analysis as well as regression trees were used to evaluate the data linked with sociodemographic and disease-related variables of the patient and siblings. Results. The results showed a high proportion of siblings engaged in caregiving activities. A total of 492 individual statements were summarized in 26 global types of statements. The three most often reported burdens by the healthy siblings are: "Handling the symptoms of illness" (100%), "Emotional burden due to the illness of the sibling" (100%) and "Uncertainty in judging what amount of stress the patient can cope with" (81.1%). Linear regression and regression tree analysis show predictors for higher burdened siblings. Conclusion. Siblings of schizophrenia patients are burdened in various aspects and in a specific matter. Their special needs will therefore have to be recognised before they can receive appropriate intervention.


Schizophrenia; caregivers; family burden; psychiatric patients; sibling

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