Childhood cancer not only has impacts on the children themselves, but also on their families and siblings. Studies have suggested that siblings of children with cancer are often the most emotionally disregarded and distressed of all family members as a result of their sibling having cancer. Thus, finding mechanisms to ameliorate stress are critical. Early intervention and treatment may serve as protective factors against risky behavior and lead to more normative child development and well-being. One method of improving the psychosocial adjustment of siblings of children with cancer has been through interventions such as camp experiences that include opportunities for campers to experience social support. Thus the purpose of the study was to determine how campers perceived social support and to gain an understanding of what processes occurred at camp that led campers to perceive feelings of social support. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants in a 3 ½-day residential camp for siblings of children with cancer. Qualitative findings provided a narrative description of how campers perceived social support. In addition, social comparison was identified as a critical mechanism. Overarching perceptions of campers were that people at camps were nice and that staff can be instrumental in facilitating universality and a cycle of reciprocity.
Author Samuel G. Roberson
Volume Vol 44, No 4 (2010)