The position of perinatal services to support parents and detect parental distress

PhD Thesis

Fenton, S. 2018. The position of perinatal services to support parents and detect parental distress. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsFenton, S.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Background: Positive father involvement has important implications for fathers, mothers, and children. Perinatal services are well-positioned to detect difficulties in fathers. However, fathers report marginalisation, while staff report limited resources for father-inclusion.

Objectives: To explore fathers’ perinatal experiences, and support from professionals (midwives and health visitors); professionals’ experiences and understanding of fathers; both groups’ ideas for paternal perinatal support; and areas of between-group agreement and disagreement.

Method: A three-round Delphi method was employed. Thematic analysis of first-round focus groups informed the development of a second-round quantitative online survey – completed by 24 fathers and 22 healthcare professionals. A third-round survey finalised within- and between-group consensus.

Results: Both groups strongly agreed on the importance of fathers. Participants endorsed service improvement ideas, such as being more family-centred, and supporting mothers and fathers with relational and psychological changes that can occur. Groups disagreed on whether fathers should receive 10-minutes alone.

Discussion: The findings support the rationale for perinatal services to include fathers and focus on the family system. This could be facilitated by greater partnership working with clinical psychology, and the provision of necessary resources by wider organisational structures. Limitations include low participant diversity and possible selection bias. Implications for further research are discussed.

KeywordsFather involvement; paternal; perinatal services
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Publication process dates
Deposited01 Nov 2018
AcceptedMay 2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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