Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Closed Access

Degree Name

MS in Human Genetics

First Advisor

Rick Guidotti

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Grossman

Third Advisor

Radhika Sawh


When one member of a family has a disability it can affect every person within that family; yet, siblings of individuals with disabilities are often overlooked by parents, healthcare professionals, and researchers. Current research suggests that having a sibling with a disability can lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety while simultaneously increasing prosocial behaviors. The present study looked at the effects of having a sibling with a chromosome 18 anomaly (SCA) on the mental health and daily lives of their unaffected siblings through the lens of anxiety and depression. Participants completed the Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) and were interviewed to assess sibling relationships, parent support, family dynamics, social relationships, mental health, and resources. Findings suggest that SCAs can have both positive and negative impacts on the mental health and overall well-being of their siblings. Individuals with an SCA were found to experience variable levels of separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic, social phobia, obsession/compulsions, and depression at a higher degree than those of the general population. Although SCAs favorably shape the individual through increased maturity and responsibility, they are also associated with adverse effects such as decreased parental attention, impacts on the participant's social and school life, and changes in the family schedule and activities. Participants demonstrated a lack of awareness about current resources available to them and expressed a desire for support that is more accessible and ongoing. Taking this into account, the results of this study aim to catalyze subsequent research and the development of tailored resources to support these siblings.

Under author imposed embargo.
Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2026