Fathers’ Perceived Reasons for Their Underrepresentation in Child Health Research and Strategies to Increase Their Involvement

Kirsten K. Davison, Jo N. Charles, Neha Khandpur, Timothy J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Purpose Examine fathers’ perceived reasons for their lack of inclusion in pediatric research and strategies to increase their participation. Description We conducted expert interviews with researchers and practitioners (N = 13) working with fathers to inform the development of an online survey. The survey—which measured fathers’ perceived reasons for their underrepresentation in pediatric research, recommended recruitment venues, and research personnel and study characteristics valued by fathers—was distributed online and in-person to fathers. Assessment Respondents included 303 fathers. Over 80 % of respondents reported that fathers are underrepresented in pediatric research because they have not been asked to participate. Frequently recommended recruitment venues included community sports events (52 %), social service programs (48 %) and the internet (60 %). Compared with white fathers, more non-white fathers recommended public transit (19 % vs. 10 %, p = .02), playgrounds (16 % vs. 6 %, p = .007) and barber shops (34 % vs. 14 %, p < .0001) and fewer recommended doctors’ offices (31 % vs. 43 %, p = .046) as recruitment venues. Compared with residential fathers (100 % resident with the target child), more non-residential fathers recommended social services programs (45 % vs. 63 %, p = .03) and public transit (10 % vs. 27 %, p = .001) and fewer recommended the workplace (17 % vs. 40 %, p = .002) as recruitment venues. Study brevity, perceived benefits for fathers and their families, and the credibility of the lead organization were valued by fathers. Conclusion Fathers’ participation in pediatric research may increase if researchers explicitly invite father to participate, target father-focused recruitment venues, clearly communicate the benefits of the research for fathers and their families and adopt streamlined study procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Fathers
  • Pediatric research
  • Recruitment strategies
  • Underrepresentation


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