Who benefits from a brief educational program for first time fathers of healthy infants
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Who Benefits from a Brief Educational Program for First-Time Fathers of Healthy Infants?. Father Involvement Research Conference 2008 Toronto, Ontario. Funding. Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR). Research Team. University of Calgary Karen Benzies, RN, PhD

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Who benefits from a brief educational program for first time fathers of healthy infants l.jpg

Who Benefits from a Brief Educational Program for First-Time Fathers of Healthy Infants?

Father Involvement Research Conference 2008Toronto, Ontario


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Funding

Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR)


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Research Team

  • University of Calgary

    • Karen Benzies, RN, PhD

  • University of Alberta

    • Joyce Magill-Evans OT(C), PhD

    • Margaret J. Harrison, PhD

    • Mark Gierl, PhD

    • Sandra MacPhail, RN, MN

  • Health Regions

    • Maureen Best, RN, MN

    • Laurie Blahitka, RN, MN

    • Cathy Kimak, BScN


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Canadian families are changing

  • Increased labour force participation by mothers

  • Increased father involvement in parenting

  • Fathers prioritized “father-specific” parenting classes as one of their top 5 supports to increase skills and confidence


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Why are Fathers Important?

  • Social interactions (play) between parents and their infants promote language acquisition

  • Father-child interactions during infancy predicted child language development at 18 months and 4 years


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Few Father-Specific Programs

  • Most programs for fathers are based on programs for mothers

  • There is some evidence that programs may be effective in enhancing the father’s interactions with his child if:

    • interventions involve active participation with the father’s own child

    • interventions involve observations of the father’s own child


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New Father-Specific Program

  • We designed and tested a father-specific program for first-time fathers of infants

    • Self-modeled video-taping and feedback

    • Delivered during home visits

  • The new program improved fathers’ skills in interaction with his infant

    • Increased cognitive growth fostering

    • Maintained sensitivity to his infants’ cues


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What is the Problem?

  • We do not know if the fathers found the program useful

  • We do not know whether some fathers experienced greater benefits from the new program

    • Could these fathers be targeted to receive the program?


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Father Involvement Theory

  • Includes three components:

    • Paternal engagement/direct interaction

    • Accessibility or availability to the child

    • Responsibility or efforts to ensure child is cared for and has necessary resources

  • The new program focused on paternal engagement

(Lamb, Pleck, Charnov, & Levine, 1985)


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Conceptual Framework

  • Generative fathering

    • Assumes fathers want to be involved with their children

    • Emphasizes fathers’ strengths and potential for growth

(Hawkins & Dollahite, 1997)


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Research Questions

  • Is the new program useful to fathers?

  • What are the characteristics of fathers who benefited from the program?


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Sample

  • 81 first-time biological fathers of healthy, singleton infants

  • Lived with the infant’s mother

  • Range of education levels from partial high school to graduate degrees

  • 85% European Canadian

  • Spoke primarily English to the infant



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Measurement

  • Video tape made during home visits was scored using the 72-item Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale (NCATS)

    • Parent Domain Total = 50 items (scored yes/no)



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Handouts with Feedback

  • Reinforced verbal feedback

  • Topics:

    • Infant Cues - Things your baby might do when…..

    • Teaching Loop – Teaching Your Baby


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Is ready to learn

Look at your face

Reach out to you

Turn towards you

Smile

Babble

Coo

Stop moving

Needs a break or change

Turn head or eyes away

Cry/fuss

Squirm/kick

Pull away

Yawn or frown

Arch back

Pushing away

Put hands to mouth or behind ear

Things your baby might do when he/she:


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Teaching Your Baby

Babies learn when dads follow this sequence:

Alert Baby

Praise & Suggestions

Show & Explain

Give Baby Time

to Try

  • Use words that describe how to play with the toy.

  • Praise your baby’s attempts.

  • Give your baby a break if she or he is restless or fusses.

  • Smile, laugh or talk when your baby smiles or makes sounds.



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Was the Program Useful?

  • Structured interviews with fathers following the outcome home visit at 8 months

    • What was useful?

    • What would you change?

  • Responses transcribed

  • Content analysis


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Results

Fathers enjoyed the focus on fathering

The program was feasible

  • Fathers liked:

    • the brief home visits

    • that the visits were scheduled to accommodate the family


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Results

  • Fathers said their needs were different from mothers (who like group programs)

  • Fathers wanted home visits earlier and to last longer

  • Fathers wanted websites with discussion boards

  • Fathers suggested father-infant play groups and workshops when their child was older (at least 12 months)


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Results

  • Self-modeled video taping and feedback increased awareness of specific behaviours to enhance play interactions

  • Handouts were useful reminders

  • Fathers liked to show the video tape to mothers

  • Fathers consistently viewed the play activity as a test and worked hard to help their infant succeed


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Results

  • Demographic characteristics did not identify fathers (n = 4) who achieved the greatest increases in interaction scores

  • Sub-sample (n = 34) divided into marked (±1SD; ~4 points) positive and negative change groups

    • Demographic characteristics did not identify change in either group


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Results

  • Fathers with positive change started with less skill in interaction than fathers with negative change

  • After controlling for baseline (5 month) interaction scores, demographic characteristics did not predict outcome (8 month) scores



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Conclusion

  • Fathers want educational programs designed specifically to meet their needs

  • A new brief educational program with demonstrated efficacy in a community sample of fathers is feasible and useful to fathers


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Future research

  • What is the impact of the program on later child language development?

  • Will the intervention work with fathers of vulnerable infants, such as those born preterm?


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Implication for Practice

  • The program may be useful in public health settings where programs for fathers are a priority

  • Caution is needed when generalizing these results to fathers with complex risk factors


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Your questions and comments…

Contact us:

[email protected]

1-403-220-2294

[email protected]

1-780-492-0402

Reference: Benzies, K., Magill-Evans, J., Harrison, M. J., MacPhail, S., & Kimak, K. (2008) Strengthening new fathers’ skills in interaction with their 5-month-old infants: Who benefits from a brief intervention? Public Health Nursing, 25(5), 431-439.


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