Sibling Relationships Over the Life Course: Growing Up With a Disability

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The research explores sibling relationships, and the ways in which they are shaped over the life course by family members, in families with a lifelong disability. In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 family units including a parent, a sibling, and an adult sibling with a disability. The content analysis revealed five sibling relationship patterns: (a) “Not a child, but a parent caretaker”—the parent–surrogate sibling; (b) “We somehow grew apart”—the estranged sibling; (c) “It is important for me to maintain some kind of distance”—the bystander sibling; (d) “When there’s something they want to tell him, they always send me”—the mediator sibling; and (e) “I love him to death”—the friend sibling. These patterns of adult sibling relationships are discussed in relation to family dynamics, values, and legacies; recommendations for practice and research are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1750
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation, 45749.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Israel
  • developmental disability
  • families
  • health
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis
  • lived experience
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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