Anxiety and depression symptomatology in adult siblings of disabled individuals: The role of perceived parenting, attachment, personality traits and disability types
AuthorsO'Neill, Linda P.
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AbstractObjectives: (1) To ascertain whether adult siblings of disabled individuals are more prone to anxiety and depression symptomatology than a closely matched control group. (2) To examine the contribution that perceived parenting styles, attachment styles and personality traits play in the long-term affective outcome of these siblings. (3) To consider if the type of disability has a role in sibling affective outcome. Design: A cross-sectional, closely matched study design, with data collected through self-report. One-way ANOVAs, correlational analyses, moderation and mediation analyses were applied. Participants: Adult siblings of disabled individuals (SDI), were initially contacted through support groups, such as SIBS, the Down’s Syndrome Association, the National Autistic Society and the Prader-Willi Association (UK) and responded to a postal or e-mailed questionnaire; 150 participants returned the completed questionnaire. The 150 control group participants were closely matched on the variables of gender, age, marital status and when possible socio-economic status, in order to compare like with like. This group was contacted through friends, family, work colleagues and local businesses. Measures: All the participants completed a range of demographic questions; the SDI were additionally asked questions regarding their disabled sibling. The established measures used included the Hospital and Anxiety Depression Scale (Zigmond & Snaith, 1983), Experiences in Close Relationships (Brennan, Clark & Shaver, 1998), an adapted measure of the Descriptions of Parental Caregiving Style (DPCS, Hazan & Shaver, 1986) and the International Personality Item Pool (Goldberg, 1999). Results: The majority of SDI reported no increased anxiety or depression symptomatology, however, when compared the SDI did report higher levels of anxiety and depression symptomatology than the control group; also higher levels of perceived inconsistent mothering, attachment-related anxiety and neuroticism, with lower levels of extraversion than the control group. These variables mediated the path between having a disabled sibling and anxiety and depression, with the notable exception of perceived inconsistent mothering. This variable showed no association with any of the established measures for the SDI group; however, there were associations consistent with previous research for the control group. There was no moderation effect on anxiety or depression between the demographic variables and SDI. The autistic spectrum disorder siblings reported similar levels of anxiety symptomatology to Prader-Willi siblings but higher than Down’s syndrome siblings and the control group and they also reported the highest levels of depression symptomatology. Conclusions: The adult SDI’s higher propensity towards anxiety and depression is a cause for concern; particularly when explained through heightened levels of attachment-related anxiety, high levels of neuroticism and low levels of extraversion. The lack of association with perceived inconsistent mothering requires further investigation. These results can help guide interventions or clinical therapies; the emotional well-being of SDI is paramount as they will possibly be among the first group to assume responsibility for their disabled siblings.
TypeThesis or dissertation
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