A qualitative Swedish study with nurses caring for families after a baby is born has demonstrated the challenges for child health of not implementing a family inclusive approach.
Researchers led by Kina Hammarlund at the University of Skövde, interviewed 10 pediatric nurses to ask how they engaged with depression in fathers, known to be associated with mental health problems in children.
The researchers found the following.
- The nurses had little regular contact with the fathers, even when they made an effort to make sure he was present.
- Finding out how the father is feeling is a challenge. One nurse said that no father has ever said he feels bad, though the nurses often can find this out via the mother, though then the information is second-hand and not reliable.
- There are no routines for screening for poor mental health in fathers, only for mothers. Some of the nurses try to compensate for this by talking, but without a routine methodology it is hard.
- Gender attitudes on the part of both nurses and mothers and fathers that the participation of mothers in the care is essential, but the participation of fathers is optional, meaning his absence and lack of engagement is not considered to be unacceptable.
The researchers conclude that the key requirement is a screening process that formalises engagement with the father in order to discover key risks to child health and welfare.
Hammarlund K, Andersson E, Tenenbaum H & Sundler AJ (2015), We are also interested in how fathers feel: a qualitative exploration of child health center nurses’ recognition of postnatal depression in fathers, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Photo: Britt-Marie Sohlström. Creative Commons.