The investigation of paternal stress, anxiety and depression during the perinatal period and the coexistence of paternal stress, anxiety and depression in the early postnatal period
Philpott, Lloyd F.
University College Cork
Background: While there is growing interest in paternal postnatal mental health among clinicians and researchers, the major of research has focused primarily on depression. More recently, stress and anxiety have also begun to emerge as paternal postnatal mental health concerns. However, to date, studies have either explored stress, anxiety, and depression individually or reported the findings separately when all three have been measured. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to research the coexistence of paternal stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms in the early postnatal period. Study aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the coexistence of and predictive factors for paternal stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms in the early postnatal period. Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional, correlational design was used. Data were collected over a period of 3 months from June to August 2019 at one large regional maternity hospital in Ireland using a self-administered questionnaire comprising of demographic questions, the Perceived Stress Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Non-probability, convenience sampling was employed. Descriptive and inferential analyses of the data was conducted to address the aim, and objectives of the study. Findings: A total of 336 questionnaires with complete data for the variables of interest were included in the statistical analysis. The majority of fathers in the study were Irish (n=282, 83.9%), educated to third level (n=241, 71.7%), married (n=238, 70.8%) and in full-time employment (n=278, 82.7%). Just over half (n=170, 50.6%) were first-time fathers. The prevalence rates were 41.1% (n=138) for moderate/high stress symptoms, 20.8% (n=70) for state-anxiety symptoms, 25.9% (n=87) for trait-anxiety symptoms, and 13.4% (n=45) for major depression symptoms. Forty-three fathers (12.8%) met the criteria for the coexistence of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms as they exceeded the cut- off score on all three measurement tools. Predictive factors for the coexistence of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms were a self-reported history of anxiety (p<0.001), a negative experience of labour and birth (p<0.001) and being of a younger age (p=0.034). Conclusion: The findings suggest that focusing on depression does not accurately represent the substantive risk to paternal mental health in the early postnatal period. Researchers and clinicians need to encompass a broader understanding of adverse paternal mental health to include stress, and anxiety and the coexistence of symptoms.
Stress , Anxiety , Depression , Father , Paternal , Postnatal period , Coexistence , Symptoms
Philpott, L. F. 2021. The investigation of paternal stress, anxiety and depression during the perinatal period and the coexistence of paternal stress, anxiety and depression in the early postnatal period. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.