Fathers, social interventions and children’s wellbeing

Lead investigator
Professor Jonathan Scourfield

This mid-career development fellowship comprises three studies on working with fathers to improve children’s emotional wellbeing, and a programme of training for the research fellow.

For social care and other helping services, engaging with fathers is a relatively recent innovation and not very much is yet known about the effectiveness of different approaches. The three studies will contribute to the evidence base for more effective work with fathers and especially the impact of this work on the emotional wellbeing of children.

The training programme will focus on the development of advanced skills for quantitative analysis.

Aims & objectives
The three studies’ overall aims are the following: To explore the potential for social interventions with fathers to enhance the emotional wellbeing of children; To examine connections between social work and public health improvement in theory, research and practice. Additionally, research capacity-building via the fellowship will develop the researcher’s ability to conduct complex mixed-method evaluations of social work interventions. There will be particular emphasis on the development of quantitative research skills, in order to address the pressing need for capacity in the UK in this area of social work research.
Study design
  • Study 1 involves analysis of existing data on families and child health over time, from the ALSPAC cohort study. It will examine which social factors, attitudes and behaviours in fathers are associated with children’s emotional wellbeing. (Note that ‘fathers’ here means all father figures, including biological fathers, stepfathers and mothers’ boyfriends).
  • Study 2 will try to identify which kinds of approaches and services are most commonly being used by practitioners who see themselves as working to engage fathers. This involves a web-based survey of practitioners.
  • Study 3 is a process evaluation of two social interventions for fathers. The studies will explore the potential for future experimental research on outcomes for children of interventions with fathers, and in particular emotional health outcomes. The two interventions being studied are Mellow Dads and the Family Links Islamic Values course for Muslim fathers.
Further information & publications
Start date
1 October 2011
End date
30 September 2014