A systematic review of the experiences of siblings of children with cancer

Hui Chuan Yang, Pei Fan Mu*, Ching Ching Sheng, Yi Wei Chen, Giun Yi Hung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: When there is a child with cancer in the family, the entire family is affected. Childhood cancer is a highly stressful experience that affects the adaptation of family member to psychosocial tasks. Many of the family stresses and changes that accompany childhood cancer have a severe impact on siblings. An understanding of the experiences and needs of such siblings is vital.Objective: The aim of this study was to understand the nature of the overall experiences of a child who has a brother or sister with cancer. Methods: Searches of CINAHL, MEDLINE/PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus, Eric, and Chinese electronic periodical services identified 10 qualitative studies that were published between 1960 and 2013. An appraisal of the primary studies was carried out using the Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument. Results: Siblings of children with cancer were found to have experienced 4 themes: (1) the disintegration of life, (2) marginalization within their family relationships, (3) self-transcendence during the normalization of family relationships, and (4) maintenance of family integrity and family normality. Conclusions: Siblings of children with cancer experience a great deal of chaos in their family life, and this affects their self-esteem and family intimacy. Being with the sick child may help siblings understand the sick child's suffering and experiences. Implications for Practice: The findings of this review provide evidence to help health professionals to assess the needs of the siblings to enhance their sense of self within the family. Providing the siblings with suitable resources should result in better adjustment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E12-E21
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cancer
  • Family integrity
  • Metasynthesis
  • Qualitative research
  • Sibling
  • Stress


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