Psychological implications of affiliate stigma on siblings of individuals with intellectual disabilities



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Siblings of people with intellectual disabilities (PWID) are a growing population in the United States (U.S). The literature on siblings of PWID has often been contradictory with some researchers claiming that growing up with a PWID has positive effects while others have found some siblings are at risk of developing psychological difficulties. While investigators have not explored the factors that impact some siblings to be at higher risk of poorer psychological functioning, the literature on caregivers suggests affiliate stigma may negatively impact parents’ mental health. Therefore, the researcher aimed to be the first to investigate whether the relationships previously found in the literature between affiliate stigma and caregivers are significant for adult siblings. Through the proposed study, the researcher explored the relationship among affiliate stigma, depression, anxiety, perceived behavioral problems, and psychological well-being among siblings. The investigator recruited 110 participants electronically through social media websites and listservs specifically associated with intellectual disability organizations and sibling support groups. Using PsychData, participants completed a short demographic questionnaire and respond to six surveys measuring affiliate stigma, psychological well-being, depression, anxiety, social desirability, and their siblings’ behavioral problems. The researcher used correlation and regression analyses to explore the relationships between these variables. A mediation analysis was conducted to examine the mediating role of affiliate stigma on the association between behavioral problems of the PWID and dependent variables (i.e., psychological well-being, depression, and anxiety). Results revealed Hypotheses 1-3 were confirmed suggesting affiliate stigma was associated with higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower psychological well-being. However, Hypotheses 4-6 revealed a full mediation suggesting the behavioral problems of the PWID do not have a significant impact on a sibling’s psychological well-being, depression, or anxiety when affiliate stigma is accounted for. Experiencing affiliate stigma appears to serve a role in the mental health of siblings of PWID. The current study contributes to the sparse literature on the experiences of adult siblings of PWID.



Affiliate stigma, Adult siblings, Intellectual disabilities, Mental health of siblings