The University of Newcastle, Australia

New smartphone tool to help new dads

Friday, 30 October 2015

Following a successful pilot study, the University of Newcastle (UON) Family Action Centre will launch a national innovative SMS4dads project – a smartphone coaching and support application designed to help men adjust to becoming new fathers.

Led by Dr Richard Fletcher, SMS4dads is designed to keep in touch with dads before and after the birth of their new baby by sending daily texts with tips, information and links to relevant services in the early months of fatherhood.

UON's pilot study revealed that the simple prompt of a text can help build a stronger relationship between couples, as well as boosting a father's knowledge about parenting.

Dr Fletcher said the pilot study sent six weeks of messages to dads with encouraging results.

"When we interviewed dads at the end of the pilot they said that the information about babies was useful but the texts also started conversations with their partner," said Dr Fletcher.

As part of the program, dads receive a weekly text asking them how they are going. Dads can reply with "awesome", "cool", "okay", "shaky" or "bad".

Dr Fletcher said one of the key elements of the program was identifying and responding to dads who could benefit from targeted support.

"Dads who respond "bad" when asked how they are going will then be asked if they would like someone to call them who is a specialist in talking to men with distress," said Dr Fletcher.

Mothers will also be invited to participate if their partner is enrolled in the study to ask for their perceptions of how SMS4dads worked for their partners.

The study opens on the 28 October 2015 and will run until September 2016.

The Family Action Centre, at the University of Newcastle has been funded to conduct the research by beyondblue with donations from The Movember Foundation. Find out more and register for the project at sms4dads.com


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