While at the ISSOP Conference in Gothenburg, I was formally invited by Sven Arne Silfverdal to attend and speak at the Barnhälsovårdens nationella konferens (Sweden’s National Health Conference on Children’s Health Care) from Oct 15-16, 2014 in Umeå, Sweden.
In other words, most of those who work in child health care in Sweden either are speaking or attending at the conference–kind of a big deal for networking and learning about the current projects taking place throughout the country.
To add to this grandiose audience, this was my first conference that financed my trip. I felt enormously happy at receiving this honor….but also an extraordinary pressure to present good information.
See, this was a Swedish conference, and I was one of two who would speak English. The other English speaker, Professor Frank Oberklaid, was in town from Australia to receive an award for his outstanding accomplishments over the decades (aka–my Academic grandfather: my PhD’s advisors’ Postdoc advisor). I don’t hold a candle to his accomplishments.
So I set out to produce an inspiring speech for the roughly 100 audience members (who were all experts and professionals in children’s health).
While Sweden is touted as a gender-equal country, and since fathers are supposed to be involved in their child’s lives, including their health care, I explored the literature to see how included fathers feel in the Barnhälsovården (children’s health care).
For example, Swedes greatly emphasize getting ultrasounds, breastfeeding, and participating in parenting groups. These are communicated both through the environment and through the medical staff personally informing parents. Other topics are highly communicated as well, such as domestic violence and working out after you have a baby. All with high levels of maternal engagement.
However, fathers are much less involved; but they are also much less asked to participate both in words by the medical staff and through the built environment. In fact, in one children’s hospital, the only picture that emphasized fathers was a negative ad telling fathers to not smoke.
If Sweden and the Barnhälsovården wants fathers more involved in children’s health care, they need to communicate both in words and through the environment the importance of fathers, how much they want them there and why it’s beneficial for fathers to attend and participate.
To see all of the presentations from the conference, click here.