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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to identify and synthesize the best available evidence on first time fathers’ experiences and needs in relation to their mental health and wellbeing during their transition to fatherhood. Introduction: Men’s mental health and wellbeing during their transition to fatherhood is an important public health issue that is currently under-researched from a qualitative perspective and poorly understood. Inclusion criteria: Resident first time fathers (biological and non-biological) of healthy babies born with no identified terminal or long-term conditions were included. The phenomena of interest were their experiences and needs in relation to mental health and wellbeing during their transition to fatherhood, from commencement of pregnancy until one year after birth. Studies based on qualitative data, including, but not limited to, designs within phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography and action research were included. Methods: A three-step search strategy was used. The search strategy explored published and unpublished qualitative studies from 1960 to September 2017. All included studies were assessed by two independent reviewers and any disagreements were resolved by consensus or with a third reviewer. The recommended Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) approach to critical appraisal, study selection, data extraction and data synthesis was used. Results: Twenty-two studies met the eligibility criteria and were included in the review, which were then assessed to be of moderate to high quality (scores 5-10) based on the JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Research. The studies were published between 1990 and 2017, and all used qualitative methodologies to accomplish the overall aim of investigating the experiences of expectant or new fathers. Nine studies were from the UK, three from Sweden, three from Australia, two from Canada, two from the USA, one from Japan, one from Taiwan and one from Singapore. The total number of first time fathers included in the studies was 351. One hundred and forty-four findings were extracted from the included studies. Of these, 142 supported findings were aggregated into 23 categories and seven synthesized findings: 1) New fatherhood identity, 2) Competing challenges of new fatherhood, 3) Negative feelings and fears, 4) Stress and coping, 5) Lack of support, 6) What new fathers want, and 7) Positive aspects of fatherhood.
Conclusions: Based on the synthesized findings, three main factors that affect first time fathers’ mental health and
wellbeing during their transition to fatherhood were identified: the formation of the fatherhood identity, competing
challenges of the new fatherhood role and negative feelings and fears relating to it. The role restrictions and changes
in lifestyle often resulted in feelings of stress, for which fathers used denial or escape activities, such as smoking,
working longer hours or listening to music, as coping techniques. Fathers wanted more guidance and support
around the preparation for fatherhood, and partner relationship changes. Barriers to accessing support included lack
of tailored information resources and acknowledgment from health professionals. Better preparation for fatherhood,
and support for couple relationships during the transition to parenthood could facilitate better experiences for new
fathers, and contribute to better adjustments and mental wellbeing in new fathers.
Introduction. There is increasing international interest in universal, health promoting services for pregnancy and the first three years of life and the concept of proportionate universalism. Drawing on a narrative review of literature, this paper explores mechanisms by which such services might contribute to health improvement and reducing health inequalities. Objectives. Through a narrative review of empirical literature, to identify: (1) What are the key components of health visiting practice? (2) How are they reflected in implementing the universal service/provision envisaged in the English Health Visitor Implementation Plan (HVIP)? Design. The paper draws upon a scoping study and narrative review. Review methods. We used three complementary approaches to search the widely dispersed literature: (1) broad, general search, (2) structured search, using topic-specific search terms, (3) seminal paper search. Our key inclusion criterion was information about health visiting practice. We included empirical papers from United Kingdom (UK) from 2004 to February 2012 and older seminal papers identified in search (3), identifying a total of 348 papers for inclusion. A thematic content analysis compared the older (up to 2003) with more recent research (2004 onwards). Results. The analysis revealed health visiting practice as potentially characterized by a particular ‘orientation to practice.’ This embodied the values, skills and attitudes needed to deliver universal health visiting services through salutogenesis (health creation), person-centredness (human valuing) and viewing the person in situation (human ecology). Research about health visiting actions focuses on home visiting, needs assessment and parent–health visitor relationships. The detailed description of health visitors’ skills, attitudes, values, and their application in practice, provides an explanation of how universal provision can potentially help to promote health and shift the social gradient of health inequalities. Conclusions. Identification of needs across an undifferentiated, universal caseload, combined with an outreach style that enhances uptake of needed services and appropriate health or parenting information, creates opportunities for parents who may otherwise have remained unaware of, or unwilling to engage with such provision. There is a lack of evaluative research about health visiting practice, service organization or universal health visiting as potential mechanisms for promoting health and reducing health inequalities. This paper offers a potential foundation for such research in future.