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Annu Rev Nurs Res. 2003;21:279-302.

The sibling experience of living with childhood chronic illness and disability.

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School of Nursing, Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


The main purpose of this integrative review is to summarize existing nursing research on the sibling experience of living in a family that includes a child with a chronic illness or disability, specifically highlighting nurse researchers who have conducted more than two studies concerning the sibling experience. A secondary purpose is to determine to what extent nurse researchers interested in the sibling experience have used or been informed by a developmental science perspective. A final purpose is to discuss future research needed to further develop the existing knowledge base concerning the sibling experience of living with childhood chronic illness and disability. Forty of 86 published research articles were authored or co-authored by nurses. There were four nurse researchers with programs of research. Most studies used a categorical approach and were descriptive, cross-sectional designs; there were few longitudinal studies. Multiple factors were identified that affect how siblings respond to childhood chronic illness and disability. Future research needs to focus on siblings and families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and outcomes need to be assessed at multiple levels. Furthermore, intervention studies building on the descriptive research are needed.

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