Paternal pregnancy-related anxiety: Systematic review of men's concerns and experiences during their partners' pregnancies

Carol Dabb, Rachel Dryer, Robyn Brunton, Keong Yap, Vijay Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Up to 25 % of expectant parents experience anxiety symptoms. Pregnancy-related anxiety is characterised by concerns and worries specific to pregnancy, childbirth, and the transition to parenthood. While pregnancy-related anxiety is well-researched in women, the exact nature of this construct in men is unclear. The purpose of the current review was to examine men's concerns, worries, and fears during pregnancy and gain an understanding of their experiences during pregnancy.

Methods
An integrative review design was adopted, using thematic content analysis to synthesise findings from quantitative and qualitative studies. Quality appraisal of the quantitative studies used the AXIS appraisal tool. The Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) checklist was used for the qualitative studies.

Results
A comprehensive search of nine databases led to inclusion of 14 quantitative and 41 qualitative studies. Ten dimensions of paternal pregnancy-related anxiety were identified: childbirth concerns, attitudes towards childbirth, baby concerns, acceptance of pregnancy, partner concerns, relationship concerns, worry about self, transition to parenthood, attitudes towards health care professionals, and practical and financial concerns. The pregnancy transition was characterised by mixed emotions and conflicted experiences for fathers.

Limitations
Generalizability of review findings was limited by poor reporting of demographic information by many included studies, exclusion of studies not published in English, and focus on heterosexual relationships.

Conclusions
Expectant fathers may experience anxiety symptoms characterised by excessive worry across multiple domains of pregnancy-related concerns. Clinicians play an important role in identifying and supporting fathers with pregnancy-related anxiety and addressing the sense of exclusion often experienced by them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-658
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume323
Early online date05 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

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