Attention to Fathers

Attention to Fathers: Unravelling Factors Influencing Paternal Postpartum Depression [Seed Funding]

Postpartum feelings of depression in fathers are prevalent and can have a negative impact on child development and family functioning. However, research on influencing factors is scarce and underdeveloped. Dr. Boekhorst and her colleagues will bridge this knowledge gap by prospectively examining paternal, maternal, and infant factors influencing postpartum feelings of depression in fathers.

The postpartum period is a vulnerable time for many parents as the transition to parenthood is accompanied by many changes, which can trigger feelings of depression. Research on risk factors of maternal postpartum depression (PPD) has been well established, while PPD in fathers has received relatively less attention. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 9-26% of fathers experience PPD and therefore it is of great importance to better understand the influencing factors of paternal PPD. PPD in fathers has been associated with poorer child developmental (e.g., emotional, behavioral) and family outcomes.

The aim of this project is: to identify perinatal maternal, perinatal paternal, and infant factors influencing paternal postpartum feelings of depression. Identifying these factors is crucial for perinatal research because it can provide new insights into the screening and prevention of PPD in fathers.

We will include 250 male partners of women participating in the Brabant Study, an ongoing large prospective cohort study of women from pregnancy onwards (N = 2800). These men will be asked to complete questionnaires during pregnancy and after delivery. We will collect new data on depressive symptoms, paternal influencing factors and (paternal reported) infant factors, while maternal and infant factors are already collected in the Brabant Study.

Team Composition

  • Dr. Myrthe Boekhorst (MCP) studies psychological maternal wellbeing during pregnancy (e.g., stress, depression, mindfulness). Boekhorst has extensive experience in large-scale data collection and implementation. She is the current project coordinator of the Brabant Study.
    Katleen van der Gucht (DP) studies the impact and working mechanisms of mindfulness based interventions and the association with mental well-being in different populations. She is co-coordinator of the Brabant study.
  • Stefan Bogaerts (DP) studies risk factors of psychopathology in various populations and psychiatric patients across the lifespan. His clinical expertise will provide the needed insights in the risk factors of paternal postnatal depression. He is the chair of the Brabant Study.

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.