Siblings’ life aspirations in the context of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a mixed-methods case-control study

Carolyn E. Schwartz, Elijah Biletch, Richard B.B. Stuart, Bruce D. Rapkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The inevitable and progressive loss of independence in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) patients may have an impact on their siblings’ life aspirations. The present cross-sectional case-control study investigated how aspirations differed between brothers and sisters of people with DMD and a stratified comparison group of nationally representative children/adults. Methods: A web-based survey was administered October through December 2020. Aspirations were measured using qualitative (open-ended) and quantitative (closed-ended) questions. Qualitative prompts asked participants about wishes, goals, and how they define quality of life (QOL) and were coded by six trained raters. Quantitative questions included 29 closed-ended goal-delineation items from the QOL Appraisal Profilev2. These data were analyzed using multivariate models adjusting for propensity scores (demographic differences) and testing for the effects of role (sibling or comparison), age, and role-by-age interactions. Results: The study sample of DMD sibling (n = 349) and comparison (n = 619) participants provided open-ended data on 968 wishes statements, 390 QOL-definition statements, and 328 goals statements. Inter-rater reliability (kappa = 0.77) reflected good agreement between raters. Results of both open-ended and closed-ended data, and of both unadjusted and adjusted analyses suggested that DMD siblings, with age, were more focused on DMD-related, family/community, intimacy, and work concerns than their peers. They were less focused on improving mood, independence, pragmatics, or subtle fine-tuning of problem-solving in life. In contrast, the comparison group was more focused on goals related to growth, purpose, and reflection. Some group differences were amplified amongst older siblings. Conclusion: This is the first study to evaluate DMD siblings’ aspirations in comparison to their peers. While there were many similarities between groups, the differences in aspirations between DMD siblings and their peers encompassed not just DMD, family/community, and intimacy, but also more work concerns. Directions for future quantitative and qualitative research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
JournalJournal of Patient-Reported Outcomes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Aspirations
  • Case-control
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Goals
  • Mixed methods
  • Siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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