NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fathers, Important Contributors

April 16, 2004

Fathers play a crucial role in their children's health, and a father who is very involved in his child's well being can save that child's life, according to a study by St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Researchers interviewed 104 fathers of children younger than 7 years living in a low-income, urban environment, asking them how often they attended a child's regular check-up. The researchers found:

  • Nearly 90 percent of fathers had attended at least one of their children's health check-ups; however, only fifty-three percent had been present during at least 40 percent of these routine visits.
  • Fathers, who had only one child, were older, and whose children were covered by health insurance, were more likely to often attend check-ups.
  • Moreover, fathers who were present during their children's birth were more than seven times more likely to be present during at least 40 percent of their children's routine health visits, suggesting that it is important to make sure fathers are involved in their children's lives from the very beginning.

The researchers contend that pediatricians should try to encourage fathers to take active roles in their children's health care, and talk to mothers about the importance of making sure fathers are involved. Given that work poses a significant barrier to men's participation in health visits, providing men with an opportunity to take time off for preventive health visits could also make an important difference, say experts.

Source: Trevena Moore and Milton Kotelchuck, Predictors of Urban Fathers' Involvement in Their Child's Health Care," Pediatrics, March 2004.

For abstract


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