Siblings of children and young people with a chronic illness are at increased risk of poor psychological functioning.
A number of studies have attempted to implement and evaluate interventions targeting the psychological well-being of this at-risk group. This systematic review summarises the evidence regarding psychological functioning of siblings following an intervention targeting their well-being.
The meta-analysis considered behaviour and knowledge, two of the most frequently studied outcomes. The following databases were used: PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science. Seventeen studies were eligible to be included in the systematic review and eight in the meta-analysis.
Results from the systematic review reflected the inconsistency of intervention evaluations in this area with a high level of heterogeneity and a total of 23 outcomes considered across the 17 included studies.
The meta-analysis estimated effect sizes using a standardised mean difference (SMD) approach. Pre-post analysis suggested significant improvement in behavioural outcomes and knowledge of their sibling's health conditions with a SMD of - 0.44 [95% CI (- 0.6, - 0.29); p = 0.000] and 0.69 [(95% CI = 0.42, 0.96); p = 0.000], respectively.
The SMD was not significant for behavioural outcomes when considering treatment-control studies.
In conclusion, the findings suggest interventions for well-being have a positive effect on the psychological functioning of siblings of children and young people with a chronic illness, but their specificity needs to be established. There is a need for further, more methodologically robust research in this area.
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