Presenting to Swedish Pediatricians on the Fathers’ Role within Hospitals

At the end of May 2013, I was asked to give a presentation on father involvement in the international medical sphere. Click here to see that posting.

The talk was so well-received that Dr Jan Gustafsson, the head of the Department of  Women’s and Children’s Health, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University, asked me to come to a Friday lunch.

I was asked to expand my talk from 20 minutes into an hour long presentation. What a great honor to highlight a topic that I’m so passionate about!

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Since I would only be speaking to pediatricians who work at the University Hospital (Akademiska Sjukhuset) in Uppsala, I tailored my lecture towards them, focusing only on Swedish medical research related to father involvement, and of course including my take on the pictures/posters/brochures that were advertised throughout their hospital and how those represent (don’t represent) fathers.

See the slides from my talk here:

Fathers in Swedish Child Health Care

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The room was packed with 20-30 pediatricians. However, they were mandated to be at my lecture, so I was a bit unsure of how intrigued they would be.

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To my chagrin, the pediatricians didn’t challenge me on how medical staff in Sweden treats fathers compared to mothers

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 1.00.51 PM(although I was challenged a couple of times on the concept of father involvement and how important their role is–despite citing literature and showing text books).

After the talk, many pediatricians asked questions and acknowledged that they didn’t treat fathers as equally as mothers.

But some who spoke stated that they wanted to change their behavior:

One pediatrician told me that she only calls the mother, except when she doesn’t have her phone number, but now would start consciously thinking about calling fathers.

Another person said “maybe we should rethink our Department name: ‘Women’s and Children’s Health’, and call it something else like ‘Family and Children’s Health.'”

Maybe nothing will change within the hospital setting, but I had done my job–provoke the pediatricians to start a discussion on increasing their responsibilities in involving fathers. Step 1 accomplished.

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Google and Father Gender Equality

There is a new UN campaign that uses Google to make a point on women’s rights by typing in simple search terms into Google (i.e. women can’t, women can, women shouldn’t, etc) and seeing what the auto-fill completes.

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Click here to see the UN Women Ad Campaign.

Naturally, as the ad campaign wanted me to feel, I felt quite appalled at the search terms people use for “women”.

As a fatherhood researcher, I wondered what search terms people use. Unfortunately there seemed to be a lot of songs about fathers, like when I type “fathers cannot” or “fathers can” I get the following responses:

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Two out of the four auto-fills for “fathers can” suggest that people search for the extent that fathers can be involved– they can “support breastfeeding” and they can “be mothers”.

Below are other findings using different search terms:

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These search terms suggest that people are still craving knowledge about the fathers’ role (e.g. “can fathers…”, as well as fighting for fathers’ rights (e.g. “fathers are…”).

However other fill-ins belittle fathers (e.g. “fathers are the curse,” “why father’s shouldn’t change diapers”).