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230280 Supporting fathers in improving birth outcomes for African-American babies
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Background: Wisconsin's African-American (AA) infant mortality rates have been among the worst in the US. ABCs for Healthy Families is a social marketing program focused on improving birth outcomes among AAs using life-course messages. As part of this program, we examined the perceived role of fathers during and after pregnancy and the potential for social support to facilitate and improve their involvement with mothers and children. Methods: During Spring 2009, community interviewers administered surveys to nearly 300 AA adults that included questions on the importance of fathers to birth outcomes. Additionally, support circles for men were held in Racine (10 sessions with 16-18 fathers) and Milwaukee (8 sessions with 4-6 fathers) between June and September 2009. Most of the sessions lasted 2-3 hours and were held at a local community center. Sessions began with a relaxing atmosphere and an affirmation, followed by guided discussion and skills-building activities. Topics covered included family planning, STDs, HIV, co-parenting, resumé writing, interviewing skills, financial literacy, and exploring “the father within me”. Results: Nearly all survey respondents (94%) agreed that emotional support from the father of the baby was important to whether a woman has a healthy pregnancy and baby. However, fewer respondents felt that fathers would be involved after the birth compared to during pregnancy. Pre- and post-session surveys from the support circles revealed that the fathers perceived it to be important for men to be able to sit in a group, open up, and share feelings. They noted that this process led to growth, maturity, an increased feeling of responsibility, and feeling less self-centered and more focused on their child. The financial literacy and job readiness skills were also reported to be very important to participants. Most of them wanted to continue meeting after the last session concluded. Conclusions: African-American adults identify father involvement as key for healthy babies and families. Support circles for fathers can provide them with the information, skills, resources, and social support to be actively involved as fathers and co-parents.
Learning Areas:Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Keywords: African American, Birth Outcomes
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Co-Investigator of the ABCs for Healthy Families project.
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.