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Two million children experience sibling death annually and have problems that require clinical intervention although few receive such help. Effects on surviving siblings’ mental health has been well documented, however their physical health has not. This study described surviving siblings’ illnesses, treatments/health services at 2, 4, 6, and 13 months post-sibling death. The 132 children (76 girls, 56 boys, M 10.6 years, SD 3.43); 30% Hispanic, 51% Black, 26% White were recruited via hospital ICUs and published obituaries. Using a longitudinal design, parents reported types and numbers of surviving siblings’ illnesses, treatments/health services, and dates post-sibling death. Most of the 207 illnesses and 674 treatments/health services occurred in the first 6 months post-sibling death. While girls had more illnesses (131) than boys (76) and Hispanic children had more illnesses than White or Black children, these differences were not statistically significant. Girls accounted for 66% of the treatments/health services and boys 34%. There was no significant difference in treatments/health service use by gender of the children (F = 1.00, p = .32). Hispanic children had significantly more treatments/health service use than Black children (F = 6.81, p = .002). Sibling death affects surviving siblings’ physical health. Study data document the importance of monitoring the health, treatments and health service use of surviving siblings especially in the first 6 months after a sibling death, regardless of the child’ s gender. On average, Hispanic children had greater health service use, which may warrant greater attention.
Brooten, Dorothy; Youngblut, JoAnne M.; Roche, Rosa M.; Caicedo, Carmen; and Page, Timothy, "Surviving Siblings’ Illnesses, Treatments/Health Services over 13 Months after a Sibling’s Death" (2018). Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. 33.
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