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The Sibling Support Demonstration Project: A Pilot Study Assessing Feasibility, Preliminary Effectiveness, and Participant Satisfaction

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 1 ]

Author(s):

Emily Rubin*, Louis Ostrowsky, Elizabeth Janopaul-Naylor, Priya Sehgal, Shireen Cama, Emilie Tanski and Carol Curtin   Pages 48 - 60 ( 13 )

Abstract:


Background: The hospitalization of a child on an inpatient psychiatric unit is traumatic for the entire family, but few services address the needs of their siblings and caregivers.

Objective: This pilot study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and potential benefits of implementing psycho-educational and support groups for caregivers and siblings of children and adolescents admitted to psychiatric units. The primary aim of this intervention was to increase sibling resiliency and reduce trauma experienced by families.

Method: A total of 145 siblings and 196 caregivers participated in the intervention. Siblings participated in a structured support group that enabled them to share their stories and learn coping skills. Caregivers were provided with a psycho-education curriculum in a group facilitated by a parent mentor. At the end of each session, participants completed surveys which included questions on demographics, satisfaction, knowledge learned, and anticipated changes in behavior as the result of participating in the intervention.

Results: Feasibility was demonstrated through successful recruitment, high rates of survey completion, and overall participant satisfaction. Caregivers reported gaining useful parenting strategies to better support the siblings, an increased understanding of the impact of mental illness on siblings, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and improved access to resources. Siblings reported feeling relieved and better understood, learning new coping skills, and finding validation and support through sharing their experiences in a group setting.

Conclusion: This study supports the feasibility and importance of providing sibling and caregiver support and psycho-education to enhance resiliency and reduce trauma among family members of psychiatrically hospitalized children and adolescents.

Keywords:

Sibling relationships, family dynamics, child and adolescent mental health disorders, resiliency, trauma reduction, parent mentor.

Affiliation:

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts



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