Interventions with fathers of young children: Systematic literature review

Joyce Magill-Evans, Margaret J. Harrison, Gwen Rempel, Linda Slater

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    68 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim. This paper reports a systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions for fathers with infants or toddlers. Background. Nurses and other healthcare professionals work closely with families of infants and young children. This contact provides an opportunity to promote positive parent-child interactions and optimal child development. Previous research has demonstrated that interventions with mothers of infants can be effective in promoting sensitive, responsive parent-child interactions and positive child development. Recent research has indicated that fathers also contribute to child development, but little is known about what types of interventions with fathers are effective in promoting sensitive, responsive father-child interactions. Methods. Literature from 1983 to 2003 in the Medline, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases was searched to locate intervention studies published in English that included a control group or used a pretest and post-test design; measured an aspect of father-child interaction; analysed father outcomes separately from mother outcomes; had a sample greater than one; and included infants or toddlers. Additional studies were located by cross-checking reference lists. Results. Fourteen papers describing 12 interventions met the inclusion criteria. The interventions included infant massage, observation and modelling of behaviour with infant, kangaroo care, participation with child in a preschool programme, discussion groups, and parent training programmes. Conclusion. Although the number of intervention studies is limited, there is evidence that, if interventions involve active participation with or observation of the father's own child, the intervention may be effective in enhancing the father's interactions with the child and a positive perception of the child. There is less information on how interventions influence child development. More research is needed to determine the influence of interventions over time, the differential influence on mothers and fathers, and the optimal dose of intervention required.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)248-264
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul. 2006


    • Father-child interaction
    • Fathers
    • Infants
    • Intervention study
    • Nursing
    • Preschool age children
    • Systematic literature review


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