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Social Determinants of Health and Health Outcomes in Men and Fathers with Mental Health Issues

NCJ Number
Social Work in Mental Health Volume: 9 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2011 Pages: 73-91
Phyllis Montgomery, Ph.D.; Stephanie A. Brown, M.S.W., R.S.W.; Cheryl Forchuck, R.N., Ph.D.
Date Published
April 2011
19 pages
The purpose of the study was to examine whether differences exist in social determinants of health and health outcomes between men without children and two groups of fathers: fathers with children less than 18 years of age and fathers with children 18 years of age or older.
The design of the study was a secondary analysis of quantitative data extracted from a larger provincially funded 5 year research project focused on mental health and housing. The sample included 277 Canadian male psychiatric consumers: 99 (36 percent) were fathers, 63 (65 percent) had younger children, and 34 (35 percent) had adult children. Age, marital status, employment, housing, income, legal involvement, and social support were used as a proxy for social determinants of health. The three health outcome measures were quality of life, severity of problems, and functioning. The descriptive and comparison analysis showed that although half of the fathers of younger children expressed a preference to parent, only two were parenting on a day-to-day basis. Compared with non-fathers, fathers were characteristically older, separated, unemployed, and homeless. Fathers reported poorer satisfaction with family relationships and greater struggles with substance misuse. Fathers of younger children had a higher rate of overall problem severity than fathers of adult children. Overall, fathers with mental illness in despairing social conditions had poorer health outcomes and may require specialized supports to minimize the barriers to fulfill their desired role to parent. (Published Abstract)