"I Felt Like Less Than a Shadow in the Room": Systematic Review of the Experiences and Needs of New Fathers

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Given the prevalence of fathers who experience psychological distress during the perinatal period, and the tendency of health care to consider and treat fathers as secondary figures, new attitudes and systems are needed to effectively target this population. The current review sought to investigate and report the voices of fathers of “new” children, specifically their experiences of available support throughout the perinatal period and their support needs. A systematic search was undertaken, and a narrative synthesis was conducted to integrate the experiences of 1,326 fathers across 39 articles. Findings suggest that fathers access support from a variety of sources (formal and informal); experience barriers to engaging with support (unaware and/or inaccessible, excluded and/or belittled, and stigma and/or privacy); and lastly, have various support needs (tailored, flexible, credible, and practical). This research has implications for the attitudes and behavior of health care, the refinement of existing and new interventions, and the direction of future research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) Public Significance Statement: A systematic search of the literature and narrative synthesis were undertaken to explore new fathers’ experience of supports. It is hoped that the review provides a platform for the community to fully use this “teachable moment” and assist to engage fathers, prepare them realistically for the challenges they may face, and facilitate their confidence to be a “supportive and involved” figure in the family unit. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-155
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number1
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • "New" fathers
  • E-health
  • Mental health supports
  • Narrative synthesis
  • Perinatal health
  • e-health
  • mental health supports
  • narrative synthesis
  • “new” fathers
  • perinatal health


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