Fatherhood and suffering: A qualitative exploration of Swedish men's experiences of care after the death of a baby

Joanne Cacciatore, Kerstin Erlandsson, Ingela Rådestad

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Scopus citations


    Background: This study was designed to evaluate fathers' experiences of stillbirth and psychosocial care. Methods: Data were collected between 27 March 2008 and 1 April 2010 via a questionnaire posted on the homepage of the Swedish National Infant Foundation. The responses to the following open-ended questions were analyzed using content analysis: " Are you grateful today for anything that health care professionals did in connection with the birth of your child?" and " Are you sad, hurt or angry today about something personnel did in connection with the birth of your baby?" Results: 113/131 (86%) fathers reported feelings of being grateful. Only 22/131 (16%) fathers reported feeling sad, hurt, or angry. Fathers expressed gratitude when health care professionals treated their newborn " with respect and without fear" , " with extraordinary reverence" , and when their fatherhood was validated by providers. They were also grateful when providers helped them to create memories of their baby. Fathers also reported feeling sad, hurt, or angry when providers were nonchalant and indifferent and when they perceived providers to be uncaring and disrespectful toward their baby. Conclusion: Bereaved fathers experience overall gratitude for person-centered psychosocial care in the aftermath of stillbirth, particularly when they feel validated as a grieving father and their child is acknowledged with reverence. Clinical implications: Health care professionals should support fathers by treating the baby who died with respect and dignity and by validating and acknowledging both his grief experiences and his fatherhood just as they would for a grieving mother.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)664-670
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - May 1 2013


    • Death of a baby
    • Grieving fathers
    • Psychosocial care
    • Stillbirth

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Nursing(all)


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