Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center

Sibling Adaptation

When a child is diagnosed with a serious medical, developmental or psychiatric disorder it affects the whole family, including brothers and sisters. Although some siblings adjust well, many brothers and sisters experience more stress and psychological adjustment problems than their peers. Parents often struggle to balance the needs of all of their children. The purpose of the sibling research program is to foster understanding of sibling adjustment to chronic illness and disability and to develop effective interventions that address the needs of all family members.

In the United States, between 4 and 7 million children experience one or more chronic illnesses or disabilities and almost all of these children have siblings.

Current Studies:

  • Latino siblings and intellectual disability
    This study examines how siblings (ages 8-15 years) from different cultural backgrounds adapt when a brother or sister has a developmental disability. Parents and siblings complete interviews and questionnaires regarding sibling psychological and school functioning, sibling relationship quality and family obligations, as well as measures of family cultural values, social support, and acculturation.
    Principal Investigator: Debra Lobato-Barrera, PhD

  • Siblings and asthma
    Two studies of sibling and asthma examine what siblings (ages 8-15 years) know about asthma and how they participate in the care of a brother or sister with asthma. Qualitative reports from children with asthma reveal how the behavior of siblings affects their asthma care.
    Principal Investigator: Debra Lobato-Barrera, PhD 

  • Sibling support and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    This study examines what siblings (ages 8-15 years) know about Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and how they participate in the care of a brother or sister. Siblings' influences on the child with IBD are examined in terms of quality of life and adherence to the treatment regimen.
    Principal Investigator: Debra Lobato-Barrera, PhD 

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