Becoming Fathers: A Mixed-methods Study of the Feasibility and Acceptability of a Mindfulness-Based Group Intervention for Perinatal Fathers

Sep 2021 | Stephanie R. Rayburn, J. Douglas Coatsworth, & David MacPhee


The transition to parenthood can be stressful for mothers and fathers, yet education and psychosocial supports are far less available for fathers. When fathers lack information and support during this transition, they are likely to experience psychological distress, potentially influencing adjustment of mother and infant. This study examined the feasibility and acceptability of Becoming Fathers, a brief intervention for expectant and new fathers that combined education and self-care skills like mindfulness in a supportive group format. Two cohorts of men (n = 19), recruited through obstetric clinics, healthcare providers, and university listservs participated in the 5-week program. We examined the feasibility of our recruitment, assessment, and implementation protocols. Fathers indicated satisfaction on brief surveys completed after each session, and through open-ended qualitative responses collected at the end of the program. Results indicated feasibility of the protocols, and positive engagement of the fathers although recruiting this specific population remains a challenge. Qualitative responses, coded and organized into higher-order themes, indicated fathers found the intervention to be valuable, reporting the pairing of skills-based education and supportive group process created a positive learning environment. Higher-order themes emerged of community, openness/vulnerability, utility of information, and the need for more time. Mindfulness skills evoked mixed sentiments. Expectant and new fathers are not currently well supported by available programs, and there is a clear need for additional interventions focused on fathers’ experiences. Becoming Fathers, a father-focused parenting intervention targeting the transition to parenthood, has potential to meet the needs of new fathers.

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