Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Eating disorders-Patients-Family relationships, Brothers and sisters, Siblings, Exploratory, Eating disorder(s)


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore sibling's perspectives on growing up with a sibling who suffers from an eating disorder. The study particularly examined sibling's reactions and responses to the discovery and progression of his or her sibling's eating disorder. An analysis of the literature revealed a lack of research on the experience of having a sibling who suffers from an eating disorder. This review of literature also brought forth the alarming prevalence and life-threatening nature of eating disorders. Ten siblings participated in semi-structured interviews which asked them to talk about their experiences of having a sibling with an eating disorder. The findings from these ten interviews revealed a range of powerful emotional reactions to the sibling's illness including feelings of anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, and fear. Findings also demonstrated sibling's withdrawal and helping behaviors towards his or her sibling and the use of coping mechanisms as escape behaviors from the stress of their sibling's eating disorder. Participants reported high levels of stress and tension in their family environment while their sibling was ill. Recommendations by participants to mental health clinicians reveal the crucial need for both education and emotional support for siblings of individuals suffering from eating disorders.




iv, 65 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 53-56)