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A brief psychoeducational intervention for first-time expectant fathers

Bernard Santo Bettinelli, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to develop a preventive intervention useful in helping first-time expectant fathers deal with the exigencies of pregnancy and prepare for parenthood, thereby diminishing the anxieties, stresses, and marital-family problems commonly associated with the birth of a first child. A pretest-posttest design with control was used to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Tests were administered at the start and end of the intervention (four weeks apart for controls) and at six weeks post-partum. Subjects were a self-selected sample of 21 first-time expectant fathers, nine of whom participated in the intervention and 12 of whom functioned as no-treatment controls. It was hypothesized that, after participation in the intervention, first-time expectant fathers would: (1) exhibit less state anxiety; (2) have higher paternal self-esteem; (3) feel more positively about their infants; (4) exhibit greater expected role flexibility; and (5) predict a higher level of involvement with their newborns. It was also hypothesized that psychologically androgynous subjects, as indicated by the Bem Sex-Role Inventory, would show less change as a result of the intervention than less androgynous first-time expectant fathers. State anxiety was measured by Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y). Paternal self-esteem was measured by the Paternal Self-Report Inventory, a modification of Shea's Maternal Self-Report Inventory. Attitude toward forthcoming infants was measured by the Expectations of Newborns Inventory, a modification of Broussard's Neonatal Perception Inventory. Two new instruments were developed for this study: the Survey of Expected Role Flexibility and the Father's Behavior Inventory, which measures direct paternal involvement with the newborn. The data did not support any of the hypotheses. The small sample size,exploratory nature of some of the instruments, and selectivity of the sample are factors which contributed to the paucity of significant results. The results and problems inherent in this kind of research are discussed in a frank manner and implications for future research are noted.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Educational psychology|Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Bettinelli, Bernard Santo, "A brief psychoeducational intervention for first-time expectant fathers" (1988). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8822639.