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Int J Nurs Stud. 2013 Jan;50(1):121-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Men's experiences of antenatal screening: a metasynthesis of the qualitative research.

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  • 1Health and Population Sciences, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. sxd954@bham.ac.uk



First to develop a consensus on what is known about men's experiences and involvement in antenatal screening, second to understand whether screening is an appropriate way to engage uninvolved men in pregnancy and third to identify areas requiring further research.


A systematic review was conducted to extract relevant qualitative primary research studies, which were subsequently synthesised.


International qualitative research papers, in English or with English translations, were identified using twenty-three electronic databases, such as CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, ASSIA and British Nursing Index. Articles that explored men's views and opinions of antenatal screening and prenatal diagnosis were included.


Eighteen relevant research studies that met the inclusion criteria were identified. Each one was appraised as suitable for inclusion using a published appraisal tool.


Three themes were constructed, which were (1) men's emotional conflicts, (2) men's focus on information and (3) men's influence on decision-making. Men felt a responsibility towards their unborn child to be involved in screening. Despite this, their input was often limited to supporting their partners, and there was no clearly defined, additional role for them as expectant fathers. Thus screening is not likely to be sufficient as an opportunity to encourage men who are uninvolved in pregnancy to become more involved. Nonetheless, engaging men who were involved in the pregnancy and who attended screening appointments was beneficial in encouraging the responsibility they felt towards their unborn child, and in allowing them to support their partners.


Healthcare professionals need to engage those men who show willingness to be involved. Nevertheless trying to engage reluctant men in screening, where there is no clearly defined role for them might create further distance between them and the pregnancy. Alternative ways to engage such men in pregnancy are thus required.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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