Fathers' Involvement and Children's Health

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Virginia Tech

The relationship between involvement in children's health care, the moderating effects of parenting beliefs between involvement and child health status and use, and the mediating effects of family integrity in fathers' involvement and child health were examined in two separate studies. The first study includes 760 fathers from a national survey project. Involvement, parenting beliefs, and demographic variables were used to predict child health and health use. Fathers' residency status was correlated with the number of times the doctor was consulted and predicted the child's height-to-weight ratio. Participation in fun activities and shopping was associated with sickness and child height-to-weight ratio. No moderation effects were found for parenting beliefs. The second study uses a mixed methods design to which fathers' perceptions of involvement, motivations, barriers, and support by their child's mother are examined qualitatively. The associations between father demographic variables, barriers to attendance, family integrity, and modernity in predicting involvement are and child health status are tested. The mediating effects of family integrity between involvement and child health were also studied quantitatively. Seventeen fathers were included in the qualitative analysis. Fathers perceived that participation in their child's health care is important and felt supported by their child's mother. Barriers to involvement included work-related difficulties and a poor relationship with their child's mother. A total of 52 fathers were included in the quantitative analysis. Fathers' biological relationship to the child was associated with involvement. Additionally, family integrity and parenting beliefs predicted involvement. No evidence was found for mediation effects of family integrity between involvement and child health. These results have implications for community programs and practitioners with the aim of improving child health.

Fathers, involvement, child health, coparenting