The study, one of the first of its kind to examine the factors that influence a father's participation in their child's health care, is published in the March issue of Pediatrics.
It found that urban fathers say they want to play a more active part in their children's health care, but work and other barriers frequently stand in the way. The study found that less than half of the fathers surveyed regularly attended doctor's appointments with their young children.
"Suppose a father takes his child to the emergency room and doesn't know the complete medical history, such as whether his child is up-to-date on immunizations or has any allergies. Not having that information can lead to less than optimal care," says Trevena Moore, M.D., principal research investigator, assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.
"Both mothers and fathers are the child's caregivers, and it's important for both to know information about their child's growth and development."
Researchers interviewed 108 English-speaking men who had children younger than 7 years of age at a hospital, community health centers and neighborhood facilities serving a large number of urban, low-income families of culturally diverse backgrounds.
About a quarter of the fathers surveyed said their boss wouldn't give them time off from work to attend their child's routine medical exams. About 60 percent said they were more likely to accompany their child to the doctor when their employer was supportive or made vacation, sick time or flexible working hours available so they could take time off.
"As a society, we just haven't expected fathers to have that role. The traditiona
Contact: Nancy Solomon
Saint Louis University