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Paternal Role Development and Acquisition in Fathers of Preterm Infants: A Qualitative Study




Martinelli, Edward

Type of Degree



Counselor Education
School Psychology
Counseling Psychology


Fathers of preterm infants are under-represented in the literature on parents of preterm infants. The acquisition and development of the paternal role of fathers of preterm infants while their singleton child was hospitalized was explored through a semi-structured interview and qualitative analysis. Sixteen fathers of infants born at a tertiary care facility in the western United States were interviewed within six months of their infant’s discharge. The average gestational age of the infants was approximately 27.5 weeks and no child was over 32 weeks gestational age. Issues related to the size and appearance of the infant, the fragility of the child, holding the infant, attachment and bonding, and support from outside sources were noted, as well as a potential model for paternal role acquisition and the moderating of life impacts on the fathers and their families.