A review of studies of information services for fathers and their efficacy has confirmed what those who work in this field have observed for a long time. There is a dearth of research, largely because of the lack of interventions to investigate. Information for fathers, unlike information for mothers, is extremely underdeveloped, contrasting with what is known about the relative influence of mothers and fathers on child outcomes.
Shefaly Shorey from Singapore looked at 17 studies from USA, Australia, Canada, Finland, Taiwan, Iran and Turkey. 8 involved only face-to-face communication, 2 only on-line communication and 7 a mixture of both.
Measured outcomes are very mixed across the diverse methods of engaging fathers:
- All 5 of the studies measuring improved father-infant interaction reported a positive outcome.
- All 4 of the studies measuring father-mother relationship quality found improvements.
- 2 out of 4 studies looking at paternal anxiety found improvements.
- Only 2 out of 6 studies found improvements in paternal depression.
- Only 1 out of 3 studies found fathers feeling more confident and positive about fatherhood.
Shorey recommends the development of digital services, given the lack of resources in most health services to deliver face-to-face support to fathers.
Shorey S, Ang L & Tam WWS (2018), Informational interventions on paternal outcomes during the perinatal period: A systematic review, Women and Birth
Photo: Matteo Lunardi. Creative Commons.