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PLoS One. 2019 May 9;14(5):e0216454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216454. eCollection 2019.

The effect of paternal cues in prenatal care settings on men's involvement intentions.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America.
2
School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.
3
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America.

Abstract

A father's involvement in prenatal care engenders health benefits for both mothers and children. While this information can help practitioners improve family health, low paternal involvement in prenatal care remains a challenge. The present study tested a simple, easily scalable intervention to promote father involvement by increasing men's feelings of comfort and expectations of involvement in prenatal settings through three randomized control trials. Borrowing from social psychological theory on identity safety, the three studies tested whether the inclusion of environmental cues that represent men and fatherhood in prenatal care offices influenced men's beliefs and behavioral intentions during the perinatal period. Men in studies 1 and 3 viewed online videos of purported prenatal care offices, while men in study 2 visited the office in person. Those who viewed or were immersed in a father-friendly prenatal care office believed that doctors had higher expectations of father involvement compared to treatment-as-usual. This perception predicted greater parenting confidence, comfort, and behavioral intentions to learn about the pregnancy and engage in healthy habits, such as avoiding smoking and alcohol during their partner's pregnancy. Study 3 replicated these studies with an online sample of expectant fathers. The results suggest that shifting environment office cues can signal fathering norms to men in prenatal settings, with healthier downstream behavior intentions.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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