The transition to parenthood is a challenge for all, but when men seek information online, they find that very little is tailored to them. A new Canadian study seeks to change that.

The transition to parenthood is a challenge for all, but when men seek advice and information online, they find that very little is tailored to them. A new Canadian study seeks to change that.
Photo Credit: Steven Bull/CBC News

New fathers: information site on the way

Many expectant fathers, and recent dads, have found they seem to be left out when it comes to advice about the transition to parenthood.

A new comprehensive web site will seek to include this previously ignored segment of society.

Deborah Da Costa (PhD) is lead author of the research. She is a scientist in the division of Clinical Epidemiology, and researcher from the Metabolic Disorders and Complications Programme  at the Research Institute- McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and an associate professor in the department of Medicine at McGill University.

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Deborah Da Costa (PhD) of RI-MUHC and McGill University lead research into development of a website to help men transition to fatherhood
Deborah Da Costa (PhD) of RI-MUHC and McGill University lead research into development of a website to help men transition to fatherhood © supplied

It seems that new fathers and dads-to-be do a fair amount of online research into the prospect of transitioning to parenthood, and about their own feelings. This also includes issues of infant care, and relationship advice.

What they’re finding however, is there’s not a lot there for them.  It seems men are mostly ignored, as the majority of information is not tailored to them.

A McGill team began research into what these men were seeking in terms of information about pregnancy, parenthood and routes to their own mental health and well-being.

With funding from the global men’s health charity, the Movember Foundation, the RI-MUHC research highlights just what soon-to-be and new fathers want to see in a dad-focused website and how best to meet those needs.

“We know that the transition into fatherhood is a time of significant life change for men, and many may experience a decline in their mental health and wellbeing as a result,” said Craig Martin, global director, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention – Movember Foundation.

“It’s critically important we identify ways to address the needs of men in this group and this study will help find new ways to reach men with the advice and support at this critical time in their lives.

 The transition to fatherhood can be challenging for men who find there’s little advice and information tailored for them online. HealthyDads.ca currently under development seeks to help smooth that transition.
The transition to fatherhood can be challenging for men who find there’s little advice about bonding with the newborn, relationship advice, or indeed much information at all tailored for them online. HealthyDads.ca currently under development seeks to help smooth that transition. © Getty Images- via CBC

The research surveyed new fathers and soon-to-be-fathers about what they wanted, and what was lacking. It was published in the Journal of Internet Research under the title:, What Do Men Want in a Website Designed to Promote Emotional Wellness and Healthy Behaviors During the Transition to Parenthood?”  (abstract HERE)

The result is the development of a website to provide the information, advice and other tips men have told researchers that they need. It’s called HealthyDads.ca. The prototype site is still under development.

As part of the research, 174 men in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary over a six-month period and asked the expectant and new fathers to complete online questionnaires. The questionnaires measured the men’s needs related to psychosocial aspects of the transition to parenthood, lifestyle behaviours, parenting, and factors associated with the decision to visit a father-focused website.

The website is still under development, with research and fine tuning proceeding towards a publicly available site in 12-18 months The site will then help to provide rookie dads with the advice and support they need and making their transition to fatherhood smoother.

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