Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Kay Perrin

Keywords

childbirth, decision making, fathers, pregnancy, qualitative research

Abstract

Fathers' attendance at childbirth is almost universal in the United States, but few researchers have addressed the role that males play in childbirth decision making. The number of technological interventions available to birthing women is increasing, as is the utilization of those interventions. The degree to which women choose or agree to these interventions plays a major role in individual and societal health outcomes. Therefore, health care policy makers and educators must find ways to help childbearing couples navigate the complex maze of decisions related to childbirth. However, policies and programs to increase shared decision making may not function as intended if they do not consider the role that fathers play in making decisions about their children's birth.

This study used qualitative methods to explore the perspectives of 15 couples prior to and after the delivery of their first child. Findings identified values and beliefs held by men that influenced their input into decisions, as well as the roles they fulfilled in decision making. Results of this study can help policy makers, health care providers and health educator identify ways to encourage effective, empowered joint decisions on the part of childbearing couples.

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