Siblings of children with chronic disorders: Family and relational factors as predictors of mental health


Support groups are often arranged for siblings of children with disabilities to prevent psychological maladjustment. This study describes how children express emotions in support groups and how group leaders and other children respond.

Conversations in 17 group sessions for siblings aged 11 to 16 were coded with VR-CoDES to report frequency of emotional expressions and responses.

Children expressed negative emotion during group sessions (n = 235), 59% as cues and 41%concerns. The immediate response was in 98% of the instances from the group leader. 38% of the responses focused on emotion, cognition or behavior.

Children express emotions, but seldom respond immediately to others’ emotional expressions in support groups. Group leaders should attend to emotion, cognition and behavior more frequently.

Practice implications
Group leaders may better fulfill the support potential of support groups through explicitly stating the role of participants, and by exploring emotional aspects.


Vatne, T.M., Zahl, E.