Fathers of Color in NICUs Need Centered Communications

Findings from What about the men? Perinatal experiences of men of color whose partners were at risk for preterm birth, a qualitative study are described by the author and PTBi researcher, Linda S. Franck. Additional authors include Brittany Edwards, Monica R. McLemore, Kimberly Baltzell, Allen Hodgkin, and Olga Nunez.

Dr. Edwards currently resides in Fresno, California and is a practicing nurse-midwife. She a collaborator on PTBi's Embrace study.


Please describe your research findings.

We spoke with 12 men of color from Fresno in a group setting about their experiences during their partners’ pregnancy and birth. All of them wanted to have an active role in the pregnancy and birth and to serve as an advocate and ally to their partner and child. Many of the participants cited the importance of their faith in God in helping them cope with adversity and uncertainty of a difficult pregnancy or birth, and they also described experiences of discrimination and mistrust of healthcare professionals and the healthcare system.

What is important or unique about this study?

To our knowledge, this study is the first to describe pregnancy and birth experiences from the perspectives of men of color living in a US community with high rates of preterm birth and infant mortality.

Healthcare professionals need to acknowledge that men of color are likely to have experienced discrimination and mistrust in healthcare encounters and assess needs for support and involvement in decision-making.

Brittany Edwards

Author

What is already known about this topic, and how do your findings add to or change this existing knowledge?

Previous research with groups of mostly White men has highlighted challenges with role transition, mixed emotions, neglect by healthcare providers, and unmet informational needs. Research with fathers of infants in NICUs found that they experienced higher levels of stress than fathers of healthy infants and highlighted the powerful role of NICU staff in creating opportunities or barriers to fathers’ involvement in their infant’s caregiving

How does your research impact current clinical practice? How does your research impact patients?

Healthcare professionals need to acknowledge that men of color are likely to have experienced discrimination and mistrust in healthcare encounters and assess needs for support and involvement in decision-making.

What should researchers/providers/patients/public health workers/etc. do as a result of these findings?

More research is needed to further expand and confirm the findings from this study. Interventions to develop father-centered communication is needed to help rebuild trust for men of color at all phases of maternal and newborn care. As women of color are at greater social and medical risk for preterm birth, they and their male partners should be directly included in all future maternal-newborn research and health service redesign.


Read the full study

What about the men? Perinatal experiences of men of color whose partners were at risk for preterm birth, a qualitative study