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Seminar Series: Tova Walsh, Social Work, University of Wisconsin

Men's Health and Healthcare Engagement Around the Birth of Their First Child
When Apr 25, 2016
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 1101 Morrill Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
Attendees Christine Bachrach
Monica DasGupta
Catherine Kuhns
Marian MacDorman
Soo Kyung Park
Lea Pessin
Basheer Saeed
Liana Sayer
Matthew Staiger
Reeve Vanneman
Riley Wilson
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About the Talk

It is increasingly normative for expectant fathers to be present alongside their pregnant partner in prenatal care settings, particularly at ultrasound examinations. Positive partner involvement during pregnancy is associated with improved maternal and child health outcomes, and fathers’ presence presents an opportunity for clinicians to offer education and support for positive involvement. However, little is known about how to effectively engage fathers in prenatal care.  In this qualitative study, we use observational and interview data collected in two different health systems to examine the ways in which fathers and clinicians view their role and address their needs in prenatal care. Expectant first-time mothers accompanied by their male partner were observed during the routine prenatal ultrasound examination at approximately 20 weeks’ gestation, using a structured observation tool to document father engagement and clinician interaction. Post-ultrasound father interviews explored experiences attending the ultrasound and any other prenatal visits, thoughts and questions about father role during pregnancy, motivation to make health behavior and/or other changes to prepare for parenthood, and perceived need for information and support. Data were analyzed using an inductive approach, informed by principles of grounded theory. Results suggest that fathers who attend ultrasound believe their presence is important both to support their partner and to learn and connect to the baby as a parent in their own right. Fathers indicated interest and identified topic areas for additional education and support from clinicians, particularly with regard to changing their own health behavior (e.g., quitting smoking). Clinicians observed in this study varied widely in their approach to fathers, ranging from treating fathers as important participants as both partner and parent to using verbal and non-verbal communication to effectively exclude the father. These findings suggest that educating clinicians on new ways of relating to, educating, and supporting fathers has the potential to enhance father engagement and improve health outcomes for fathers, mothers and children.  

About the Speaker

Tova Walsh is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin. Professor Walsh's research focuses on understanding and improving health and wellbeing in multi-stressed families, with an emphasis on pregnancy and early parenting in contexts of risk. In one line of current research, she is examining the prenatal experiences, psychological processes, and support needs of expectant fathers and mothers, with the aim of informing efforts to promote healthy pregnancies and positive partnering and parenting. In another line of research, she aims to better understand the special challenges of parenting across the deployment cycle for military families with young children, with the goal of informing the provision of support to military service members, veterans and their families. Professor Walsh's research draws on her experience working in low-income communities as a home visitor to families with children ages 0-3. This work inspires her continuing interest in efforts to prevent domestic violence and child maltreatment, and build protective factors that help buffer children and families from adverse experiences and stressful circumstances.

Visit Professor Walsh's webpage


Please note that, at the present time, Morrill Hall is not accessible for handicapped individuals.

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