Psychologic functioning of siblings of disabled children

N. Breslau, M. Weitzman, K. Messenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports findings from a comprehensive study of families of pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, myelodysplasia, and multiple handicaps receiving care in clinics of two teaching hospitals in Cleveland. In 239 families with normal siblings 6 to 18 years old, mother completed the Psychiatric Screening Inventory for a randomly selected sibling in this age group. Results were compared to data on 1,034 randomly selected children from a cross-section of Manhattan households. The proportion of siblings with serious impairment was not significantly different from the Manhattan sample. Although on the total inventory siblings did not score significantly higher than the comparison sample, they did score significantly higher on the mentation problems, fighting, and delinquency subscales. The diagnostic categories of the disabled children had no significant effect on siblings' scores, nor did level of disability. Neither siblings' sex nor age bore any relationship to their psychologic functioning. A sibling's birth order in relation to the disabled child had a significant interaction effect with sex on psychiatric impairment. Little relationship was found between a mother's perceived effects of caring for a disabled child on attention to siblings and siblings' disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-353
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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