Background: Chronic disease of children can cause changes in the health-related quality of life (HrQoL) of the family members.
Aims: To evaluate the HrQoL of healthy siblings of children with chronic disease.
Study design: Cross-sectional study.
Methods: The study included healthy sibling of children with chronic disease (cerebral palsy, epilepsy, diabetes, celiac disease, hematologic/oncologic disease, or asthma) and healthy sibling of healthy children to evaluate the quality of life. We used the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory questionnaire; the physical health and psychosocial health scores were calculated using the responses of the sibling and parent. The primary endpoint was the comparison of HrQoL scores of healthy siblings of children with chronic disease and that of healthy siblings of healthy children.
Results: This study included a respective healthy sibling of 191 children with chronic disease and healthy sibling of 100 healthy children. The physical health, psychosocial health, and total health scores of healthy siblings of children with chronic disease were significantly lower than that of healthy siblings of healthy children (p<0.001). Among the healthy siblings of children with chronic disease, the lowest psychosocial health score was found in the siblings of children with cerebral palsy, hematologic/oncologic disease, and asthma (p<0.001). The global impact on the quality of life for healthy siblings of children with chronic disease was significantly higher in the self-report of the children than that of the parents (30.4% versus 15.1%, p<0.05).
Conclusion: Most healthy siblings of children with chronic disease are physically and psychosocially affected and there is low parental awareness of this condition. This can increase the risk of emotional neglect and abuse of these children. Therefore, special support programs are needed for the families of children with chronic diseases.
Keywords: quality of life; sibling; Children; chronic disease.