The sibling-in-law: Understanding an unknown member of the disability community

Kirsten E. Zemke, Meghan M. Burke, Richard C. Urbano, Robert M. Hodapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little attention has focused on siblings-in-law, the spouses of siblings of people with disabilities. Using an online survey, 102 siblings-in-law provided information concerning themselves, their spouses, in-law family, and experiences. Overall experiences were rated as positive (51.0%), mixed (34.3%), or negative (14.7%). Compared to respondents with negative outcomes, respondents with positive and mixed outcomes felt being a sibling-in-law more positively impacted their marriage, relationship with in-laws, parenting, desire to advocate, and career. Before marriage, these two groups better understood sibling-in-law responsibilities and reported less worry about marrying into a family with a member with disabilities or having children with disabilities. In open-ended reflections, 1/3 of respondents discussed family dynamics; improving disability knowledge; future planning; and marriage considerations. Practice and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-378
Number of pages18
JournalIntellectual and developmental disabilities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 8 2020


  • Caring for adults with IDD
  • Families
  • Sibling-in-law
  • Siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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