Father-Inclusive Perinatal Parent Education Programs: A Systematic Review

Jun 2018 | Joyce Y. Lee, Heather A. Knauer, Shawna J. Lee, Mark P. MacEachern, Craig F. Garfield

Abstract: Fathers contribute to their children’s health starting at the beginning of life. Few parent education programs include fathers. Among those that do, there is little effort to report program effects on father outcomes. In this systematic review, we examined father-inclusive perinatal parent education programs in the United States as they relate to a range of father outcomes. The databases searched were PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, Ovid Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and PsycINFO. Studies were included if they included an evaluation of a parent education program and a report of father outcomes measured within 1 year of the child’s birth and were conducted within the United States. Of 1353 total articles, 21 met study criteria. The overall state of the father-inclusive perinatal parent education program literature was poor, with few interventions available to fathers. Available programs were associated with increased father involvement, coparenting relationship, partner relationship quality, father’s mental health, and father’s supportive behaviors. Program effects on father-infant interaction, parenting knowledge, and attitudes and parenting self-efficacy were inconclusive. Three programs emerged as best evidence-based interventions. Risk of bias was high for many studies. Outcome variability, small sample size, and publication bias contributed to the weak evidence base. There is a need for more evidence-based interventions to support fathers. Clinicians play a key role in engaging fathers in early parent education programs and health care settings.

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