Family Strategies to Support Siblings of Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients

Family Strategies to Support Siblings of Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients
A systemic analysis (Gerhardt et al., PBC, 2015) concluded that siblings of children with cancer are at risk for long-term issues (including psychosocial distress, poor functioning) and should receive supportive services. This study intended to describe the strategies families have used to address the needs and concerns of siblings of children undergoing HSCT.
This was a qualitative study in three parts: (1) analysis of interviews of 26 families at 4 sites in US/Canada within a year hematopoetic stem cell transplantation (2) 6 families were interviewed to focus on sibling issues and strategies used to support siblings from 1 site (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) (3) 15 health care professionals were interviewed regarding strategies they use to reduce stress in siblings.
Strategies identified included: sharing information (emphasized by children more than adults), using social support (family and friends to help), taking siblings to the hospital, communicating virtually, providing special events or quality time for siblings, offering siblings a defined role to help the family, switching between parents at the hospital, keeping the sibling's life as constant as possible and arranging sibling meetings with a child life specialist or counselor.
The parent study's primary aim was different and grounded theory was used thus not all families were asked the same questions around siblings and limited numbers may not be applicable to all families.
We know it is important to support families (including siblings) during the stress of treatment. This study will help us provide concrete examples of strategies other families have used to support siblings.

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