Background: Research has suggested that well siblings of children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses are at risk for negative outcomes and that parents’ responses to the illnesses can influence the adaptation of well siblings. Yet, parents’ efforts to look after well siblings in the context of illness are rarely considered in literature about sibling adaptation. The importance of attending to the needs of well siblings was a major theme to emerge from a qualitative analysis of the experiences of parents of adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 parents of adolescent girls with anorexia and analysed using grounded theory method. Results: The data indicated that parents viewed caring for well siblings in the context of anorexia as an important role and responsibility. Parents reported making conscious and active efforts to look after well siblings by: maintaining normality; compensating for changes to routines; protecting siblings; providing emotional support; and managing the consequences. Conclusions: This paper provides a picture of the actions parents take to help well siblings adapt to anorexia in the family. Further research is needed to develop and expand this understanding to families experiencing a wide range of chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The findings underline the importance of clinical attention and further research into the critical parental role of caring for well siblings. Copyright © 2006 The Authors.
CitationHoney, A., & Halse, C. (2007). Looking after well siblings of adolescent girls with anorexia: An important parental role. Child: Care, Health and Development, 33(1), 52-58.
- Anorexia nervosa
- Chronic illness
- Parents’ perspectives
- Well siblings