Importance Despite increasing attention to the importance of father involvement during pregnancy, the literature on fathers' roles in perinatal decision making is scant. Objective The aim of this study was to conduct a narrative review of the literature exploring fathers' preferences, perspectives, and involvement in perinatal decision making. Evidence Acquisition We searched PubMed, Ovid, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL databases using the terms father, spouse(s), husband, and paternal separately with the combined terms of attitude, preference, involvement, influence, informed consent, decision making, pregnancy, labor induction, genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis, amniocentesis, fetal surgery, genetic abnormalities, congenital anomalies, birth defects, perinatal, and antenatal. The search was limited to English-language studies that were published anytime and conducted between July and September 2018. Results The initial search identified 616 articles; 13 articles met criteria for inclusion. Fathers view themselves as serving distinct roles in perinatal decision making and have specific informational needs that would support their involvement in decision making. Although fathers want to support their partners and learn about fetal health, they often feel excluded from perinatal screening decisions. Mothers and fathers also have different needs, concerns, and preferences regarding key perinatal decisions that, if unresolved, can impact the couples' relationship and perinatal outcomes. Conclusions Findings provide import insights into the distinct experiences, roles, needs, and perspectives of fathers facing perinatal decision making. Relevance Advancing research and policy on fathers' involvement in perinatal decision making could lead to a paradigm shift in how maternity care is structured, how obstetric services are delivered, and how perinatal interventions are designed and implemented. Target Audience Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians. Learning Objectives After completing this activity, the learner should be better able to describe why fathers are important to perinatal health; assess gaps in care practices that limit father involvement in perinatal decision making; evaluate situations where fathers wish to be involved in perinatal decision making; and list opportunities for future research in this area.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology