A survey of information needs of fathers of newborns in China has identified three distinct groups of fathers with differently expressed needs.
The survey covered 206 fathers at the hospital in Soochow University, Suzchou, China.
High need / “enthusiastic” – strong needs for all kinds of information
- 63% of the fathers were in this group in relation to information about maternal health and 65% of the fathers were in this group in relation to infant health.
- 26% of the fathers were in this group in relation to both maternal and infant health.
- These fathers were less interested in information about the mother’s physical recovery, but about half showed strong interest in infant immunisations, screenings and identifying illnesses.
- 12% of the fathers were in this group in relation to information about maternal health and 9% of the fathers were in this group in relation to infant health.
- Even in this group, 74% wanted information nutrition for the mother, 54% wanted information on medication during breastfeeding, 49% information on maternal exercise and 42% on maternal emotions. Just under half showed interest in infant immunisations, screenings and identifying baby illnesses.
Fathers aged 30-35, who were urban residents and who had college education were more likely to be in the high need / “enthusiastic” group. Around 80% of 30-35 year olds were in the high need group , whilst only 50% of fathers in the lower and higher age groups were.
These differences could be explained by the fact that younger fathers are more likely to access information independently on-line. Fathers of lower socio-economic groups are more inclined to depend on informal parenting advice. Also, they may have long working hours and also be more influenced by traditional patriarchal family patterns.
Overall, the topics of most interest to fathers (over 90%) were:
- Maternal nutrition
- Immunisations for the baby
- Infant abnormalities
- Infant temperature
The study provides valuable evidence for designing future information provision for fathers of newborns.
Ge B, Wan S, Li H, Shen Q, Want W, MO Y, Kelly BV & Wang J (2019), Studying perceived needs for information on maternal and infant health care in the puerperium period among fathers of newborns in China, Midwifery 78
Header photo: Safia Osman. Creative Commons.