Factors that influence the uptake of postnatal care from the perspective of fathers, partners and other family members: a qualitative evidence synthesis

Finlayson, Kenneth William orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1287-7630, Sacks, Emma, Brizuela, Vanessa, Crossland, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1063-8123, Cordey, Sarah Elizabeth, Ziegler, Daniela, Langlois, Etienne V, Javadi, Dena, Comrie-Thomson, Liz et al (2023) Factors that influence the uptake of postnatal care from the perspective of fathers, partners and other family members: a qualitative evidence synthesis. BMJ Global Health, 8 (Suppl). e011086.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2022-011086


Background Postnatal care (PNC) is a key component of maternity provision and presents opportunities for healthcare providers to optimise the health and well-being of women and newborns. However, PNC is often undervalued by parents, family members and healthcare providers. As part of a larger qualitative review exploring the factors that influence PNC uptake by relevant stakeholders, we examined a subset of studies highlighting the views of fathers, partners and family members of postpartum women.

Methods We undertook a qualitative evidence synthesis using a framework synthesis approach. We searched multiple databases and included studies with extractable qualitative data focusing on PNC utilisation. We identified and labelled a subset of articles reflecting the views of fathers, partners and other family members. Data abstraction and quality assessment were carried out using a bespoke data extraction form and established quality assessment tools. The framework was developed a priori based on previous research on the topic and adapted accordingly. Findings were assessed for confidence using the GRADE-CERQual approach and are presented by country income group.

Results Of 12 678 papers identified from the original search, 109 were tagged as ‘family members views’ and, of these, 30 were eligible for this review. Twenty-nine incorporated fathers’ views, 7 included the views of grandmothers or mothers-in-law, 4 incorporated other family member views and 1 included comothers. Four themes emerged: access and availability; adapting to fatherhood; sociocultural influences and experiences of care. These findings highlight the significant role played by fathers and family members on the uptake of PNC by women as well as the distinct concerns and needs of fathers during the early postnatal period.

Conclusion To optimise access to postnatal care, health providers should adopt a more inclusive approach incorporating flexible contact opportunities, the availability of more ‘family-friendly’ information and access to psychosocial support services for both parents.

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