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Title: It's good to talk : an exploratory study of parental communication with the siblings of children with chronic illnesses
Author: Thompson, Suzanne J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2697 5391
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 1999
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Parental communication with the well siblings of children with chronic illnesses has been consistently recognised by researchers and clinicians to be an important factor influencing the siblings' psychological adjustment. However, this process can pose considerable difficulties for parents. The purpose of this study was to gain greater insight into parents' experiences regarding both the content and process of their interactions with the healthy siblings. Using the grounded theory approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten mothers and four fathers; followed by short semi-structured interviews with a well sibling from each family. Most of the parents reported finding few difficulties in providing basic information about the medical condition, mainly diabetes, to the well siblings. However, their descriptions indicated that there was little conversation about the condition within the family. Some issues, such as the possibility of death or other complications, were often avoided. Systematic analysis of the data revealed that parents were constantly engaged in a 'Balancing Act'; striving to maintain homeostasis within family life whilst meeting the needs and desires of each family member. Parents' communication with the unaffected sibling needed to be understood within this conceptual framework. Three major themes emerged from the analysis: 'Maintaining Normality'; 'Balancing Competing Needs'; and 'Regulating Illness Talk'. These all reflect the struggle to attain a sense of balance in family life. Talking about the illness results in it being brought to the forefront, conflicting with the desire to be a 'normal' family. Therefore, the quantity and quality of conversations relating to the condition are carefully regulated ensuring that the intrusion of the illness is contained. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed; and suggestions are made for future research and practice within paediatric and psychological service contexts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available