Dissertations (Open Access)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)


Geri LoBiondo-Wood, PhD

Second Advisor

Rebecca Casarez, PhD

Third Advisor

Julie Kaplow, PhD


Prior research on the impact of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) hospitalization on families have been predominantly focused on the parents, yet siblings who visit the ill child in the PICU environment remain understudied. The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of 9- to 17-year-old siblings of acutely critically ill or injured children. A generic qualitative approach using one-to-one interviews, observations, and clinician notes was used to gain an understanding of the experience of siblings who visited the PICU. Qualitative analytic methods were used to analyze the data. The findings from 16 siblings (mean age 6.3 years) indicated that visiting their critically ill sister or brother in the PICU can be emotionally distressing. Three major themes and nine subthemes were identified from the data. Predominant sibling stressors include: Pre-illness stressors, ICU environment, parent stressors, appearance of ill child, and uncertainty. Siblings coped by distraction, praying, reflecting on their bond with the ill child, and accepting support from close friends, family members, and the community. Sibling physical, emotional, and social health were impacted. Siblings experienced fear, worry, and hope while visiting their critically ill sister or brother in the PICU. Future research should fully incorporate the sibling perspective when designing interventions to mitigate the effects of PICU visitation on healthy children.


pediatric intensive care unit, family, sibling

Included in

Nursing Commons