“We Are a Family With Diabetes”: Parent Perspectives on Siblings of Youth With Type 1 Diabetes

Viena T. Cao, Barbara J. Anderson, Sahar S. Eshtehardi, Brett M. McKinney, Deborah I. Thompson, David G. Marrero, Marisa E. Hilliard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Having a child with type 1 diabetes (T1D) impacts the entire family system. Parental distress and burden have been well studied, but other family members, including siblings, have received little attention. Based on research about family life and sibling experiences in other chronic condition populations (e.g., autism, cancer), we expected parents of youth with T1D would report that siblings participated in T1D management and that T1D had a psychological impact on siblings. As part of a larger qualitative study, parents of youth with T1D age 5–17 (M = 10.8 ± 6 3.6 years) participated in semistructured interviews about T1D-specific healthrelated quality of life. For this study, we conducted secondary analyses on transcripts from 20 parents (95% mothers) from households with at least 1 sibling of the child with T1D. Three themes emerged: (a) siblings share the workload and help with T1D management, (b) T1D takes an emotional toll on siblings, and (c) parents feel guilty about prioritizing T1D over siblings’ needs and desires. Parents recognized siblings have impactful roles in T1D management and family functioning. Future research into these themes can guide clinical and research efforts to develop sibling-inclusive resources and interventions for families with T1D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Family
  • Qualitative research
  • Quality of life
  • Siblings
  • Type 1 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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