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Part 2: exploring views from fathers and perinatal practitioners on the inclusion of fathers by perinatal services

02 May 2021
22 min read
 Healthcare professionals have expressed that they lack the father-specific training needed to meet with fathers
Published:

Abstract

Background

This is the second of a two-part series exploring father's inclusion in the perinatal years. The first paper was published in volume 29, issue 4 of the British Journal of Midwifery. This paper explores the results of the study and discussion in relation to previous literature and to professional practice. Positive father involvement during the perinatal period has important implications for families. However, previous research suggests that fathers experience marginalisation, while staff report a lack of training and time for engaging fathers.

Aims

This study explored fathers' and perinatal professionals' experiences of fathers' involvement during the perinatal period, and ideas for paternal support.

Method

A Delphi method was employed. Thematic analysis from focus groups informed an online survey which was completed by 24 fathers and 22 professionals. A third-round survey finalised group consensus.

Results

Both groups agreed on the importance of fathers. Participants suggested improvement ideas, such as supporting fathers with psychological change. Groups disagreed on some ideas, such as fathers receiving a session alone to discuss concerns.

Discussion

The findings support the inclusion of fathers in perinatal services and a focus on the whole family system. Limitations of this study include low participant diversity and possible selection bias. Implications for further research are discussed.

This is the second of a two-part series of a paper exploring the inclusion of fathers by professionals in the perinatal years. In the first paper, previous research was reviewed which suggested that fathers' inclusion in their baby's early years is important for the baby's development and mother's wellbeing. It also suggested that some fathers themselves struggle with adjustment to fatherhood. However, the literature also suggests that fathers feel excluded by some professional practices in the perinatal years. This research therefore explores what fathers, midwives and health visitors think are the important factors to consider in aiming for inclusive practices perinatally and through Delphi methodology attempts to draw consensus between these groups.

A total of 51 participants contributed to the study (27 fathers, 24 healthcare professionals [HCPs]). R2 responses from participants who did not complete R3 were used as their final responses (Pipon-Young et al, 2010), giving a final sample size of 46 (24 fathers, 22 HCPs). Only one father took part in all three rounds with three fathers dropping out after the first round. The rate of HCPs (40.9%) and fathers (70.8%) continuing from R2 to R3 represents typical completion rates expected in Delphi studies (Gordon, 1994).

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