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Interventions for siblings of pediatric oncology patients a meta-analysis

1 January 2015


The diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer results in significant disruptions, and distress is not limited to the ill child and the primary caregivers. Healthy siblings of pediatric cancer patients have been shown to experience significant levels of distress and difficulty with psychological adjustment. The purpose of this current paper aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions provided to healthy siblings of pediatric cancer patients in improving symptoms of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, behavior, quality of life, and cancer-specific constructs from pre-intervention to post-intervention. This meta-analysis sought to assess published and unpublished studies to better identify the components of the interventions that were the most effective. A total of 15 studies were identified, resulting in 11 effect sizes for anxiety, 7 effect sizes for depression, 2 effect sizes for posttraumatic stress symptoms, 2 effect sizes for behavior, and 3 effect sizes for a cancer-specific construct. Preliminary analysis of these effect sizes indicated that interventions provided to siblings of pediatric cancer patients were mildly effective for anxiety, mildly effective for depression, moderately effective for posttraumatic stress symptoms, mildly effective for quality of life, not significantly effective for behavior, mildly effective for cancer-specific fear, not significantly effective for cancer-specific communication, mildly effective for cancer-specific interpersonal difficulties, and largely effective for cancer-specific intrapersonal difficulties. Primary analysis of anxiety and depression indicated no significant moderators or intervention components that significantly impacted effectiveness. Future research should focus on utilizing control groups during intervention and detailing treatment components as well as sibling demographics, to allow for further analysis of the interventions’ effectiveness.


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