A structured group intervention for siblings of children with cancer

Michael J. Dolgin, Eli Somer, Nurit Zaidel, Rina Zaizov

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The current study describes the development and evaluation of a structured group intervention for school-aged and adolescent siblings of childhood cancer patients. Twenty-three siblings participated in a six-week program in which parallel groups of younger (ages 7–11) and older (ages 12–17) siblings were conducted. Defined topics were selected from the clinical and research literature and on the basis of a pre-intervention survey, and were addressed at each session. Methods included facilitated group discussion, art therapy techniques, role playing, and informal social interaction. Pre- and postmeasures of cancer-related knowledge, feelings and attitudes towards cancer, and overall mood state were administered. Results indicated statistically and clinically significant improvements in interpersonal problems, intrapsychic preoccupation, disease-related communication, mood, and cancer-related knowledge. Consent and attendance rates, as well as post-intervention satisfaction ratings highlight the subjective need felt by siblings and parents for direct, focused work with this population. Salient issues for siblings of pediatric cancer patients, specific techniques, group dynamics and processes, and staff and parent responses to the intervention program are discussed. The need for replicable, empirically validated interventions for family members of seriously-ill children is emphasized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Group Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


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