Current Content
Volume 48 - Number 3
May/June 2022


Impact of Critical Illness on Healthy Siblings

Monjira Biswas

The entire family, including healthy siblings, is affected by the hospitalization of a critically ill child in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), yet there is a gap in the current literature regarding the experiences, outcomes, and needs of critical illness on healthy siblings. Further research is needed to strengthen family-focused care with particular attention and support for siblings. A search was conducted using PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases along with reference lists of included publications. A total of 30 articles was selected for review and included primary research and review articles published between 1990 and 2020 examined the sibling experience related to PICU hospitalization. Results indicate that implementing family-centered care that extends to support and educate siblings can diminish feelings of loneliness and isolation while helping them feel included. Sibling relationships also play a protective role in a child's response to stressful events. Policies, preparation, and screening tools can enhance the sibling experience and promote family cohesion while easing apprehensions toward sibling visitation. Many interventions aim toward enhancing support for family members to mitigate post-ICU psychological distress and reduce symptoms of post-intensive care syndrome-family (PICS-F). Understanding how siblings are affected by their brother or sister's ICU admission provides parents and critical care providers at the bedside with evidence-based knowledge to identify appropriate discussions and interventions to better support healthy siblings as they cope during this challenging time.