Coping intervention ineffective for reducing anxiety in siblings of children with cancer
The Siblings Coping Together (SibCT) group intervention method does not appear to have significant positive effects on anxiety symptoms of siblings of children with cancer, a recent study has shown.
The researchers randomized 75 healthy siblings (aged 7–16 years; 41 males) of paediatric cancer patients to either the SibCT treatment (n=41) or to attention control (n=34). Study outcome was anxiety symptoms, measured using the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC).
SibCT had no significant effect on the total MASC score or on the scores in the individual subsets. Scores were unaffected when analysed according to participant group or across time. At baseline, 28 percent of males and 17 percent of females had elevated MASC scores, though the difference did not reach statistical significance.
Multivariable analysis showed that there was a significant gender influence, such that MASC scores were significantly higher in the male vs female siblings across both groups and all assessment times (p<0.05).
Researchers also assessed the effect of SibCT on caregiver anxiety and found that there was a significant medium-sized reduction in anxiety symptoms over time, according to the total Multidimensional Anxiety Questionnaire (MAQ) scores (p<0.02). However, no significant group-by-time effect was observed.
Additionally, caregiver scores in the physiological/panic subscale of the MAQ were significantly higher when the child with cancer was actively receiving treatment than when off treatment (p<0.04). Analysis by treatment group showed that, when the ill child is on active treatment, caregivers of siblings receiving SibCT had significantly fewer panic reactions than their counterparts in the control group (p<0.03).