The Sibling Support Demonstration Project: A Pilot Study Assessing Feasibility, Preliminary Effectiveness, and Participant Satisfaction

UMMS Affiliation

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Pediatrics | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology


Background: The hospitalization of a child on an inpatient psychiatric unit is traumatic for the entire family, but few services address the needs of their siblings and caregivers.

Objective: This pilot study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and potential benefits of implementing psycho-educational and support groups for caregivers and siblings of children and adolescents admitted to psychiatric units. The primary aim of this intervention was to increase sibling resiliency and reduce trauma experienced by families.

Method: A total of 145 siblings and 196 caregivers participated in the intervention. Siblings participated in a structured support group that enabled them to share their stories and learn coping skills. Caregivers were provided with a psycho-education curriculum in a group facilitated by a parent mentor. At the end of each session, participants completed surveys which included questions on demographics, satisfaction, knowledge learned, and anticipated changes in behavior as the result of participating in the intervention.

Results: Feasibility was demonstrated through successful recruitment, high rates of survey completion, and overall participant satisfaction. Caregivers reported gaining useful parenting strategies to better support the siblings, an increased understanding of the impact of mental illness on siblings, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and improved access to resources. Siblings reported feeling relieved and better understood, learning new coping skills, and finding validation and support through sharing their experiences in a group setting.

Conclusion: This study supports the feasibility and importance of providing sibling and caregiver support and psycho-education to enhance resiliency and reduce trauma among family members of psychiatrically hospitalized children and adolescents.


Sibling relationships, family dynamics, child and adolescent mental health disorders, resiliency, trauma reduction, parent mentor

DOI of Published Version



Rubin E, Ostrowsky L, Janopaul-Naylor E, Sehgal P, Cama S, Tanski E, Curtin C. The Sibling Support Demonstration Project: a pilot study assessing feasibility, preliminary effectiveness, and participant satisfaction. Adolescent Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 1;8(1):48-60.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Adolescent Psychiatry