The purposes of this study were to explore the needs and concerns of the siblings of children hospitalized with a chronic illness and to explore the role that Child Life Specialists play in the lives of siblings. Face-to-face and telephone interviews with Child Life Specialists from three central Florida pediatric hospitals were conducted and analyzed. Through these interviews, I gained the perspective of the Child Life Specialist’s role concerning the needs and concerns of siblings as well as their role in meeting those needs. The interviews were tape-recorded and later transcribed and analyzed with a qualitative approach. I predicted that the results would show many similarities among Child Life Specialists' perceptions related to their experiences with siblings and would solidify the role that they play in meeting the needs of siblings. This study validated the worth of the Child Life Specialist in the hospital setting in aiding in the psychosocial development of hospitalized children and their families. I concluded from the data that all of the Child Life Specialists agreed that they were needed in the hospitals to help siblings deal with the psychosocial needs separate from the needs of the hospitalized child. All the Child Life Specialists helped siblings in the hospital; however there was a fair amount of inconsistency regarding how the needs of siblings were met. All the Specialists believed they were relieving anxiety; with differences in the methods to relieve anxiety. They all believed they made a positive impact in the siblings’ hospital experiences with a fair amount of variance in their perceived level of impact. There are very few research studies in the fields of child development and child life regarding psychosocial development of siblings of chronically ill children. Therefore, I felt it pertinent to conduct an exploratory study that would provide relevant and factual information to both fields that could, in turn, inspire future research in both fields. Through this study, I have discovered that Child Life Specialists employ a variety of methods in meeting the needs of siblings of children diagnosed with a chronic illness. I have also discovered that Child Life Specialists perceive themselves as being able to make a positive impact on the coping and psychosocial needs of the siblings of children hospitalized with chronic illness Further research in this area is needed. First and foremost, a study is needed in which the siblings are interviewed so that their needs are correctly identified, and Child Life Specialists can intervene appropriately. Second, this particular study focused on central Florida, and future studies should expand the geographic regions to other areas of the United States. Third, this particular study focused on chronic disease diagnosis of the child in the hospital, and additional studies are needed so that all siblings of all children in the hospital for any reason are studied. Therefore, I predicted that siblings would have different needs of attention from one another, depending on diagnosis of chronically ill sibling and family situation, and that Child Life Specialists would employ a variety of methods in differentiating for and meeting those needs.


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Thesis Completion





Culp, Anne


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

Degree Program

Early Childhood Development


Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis