Walk the talk: Leader behavior in parental education groups

Nurs Health Sci. 2018 Jun;20(2):173-180. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12399. Epub 2018 Jan 3.


Expectant and new parents are offered parental education groups as a way to support their transition to parenthood. Group leadership in these groups has been found to be challenging. Using a qualitative and summative design, the aim of the present study was to investigate how health professionals describe their role in parental education groups compared to their actual behavior. Thirteen health professional leaders in antenatal and child health services were interviewed. These descriptions were compared with the leaders' actual behavior in video and audio-recordings of 16 different group sessions. The results revealed that regardless of how the leaders described their role, they acted as experts and left little time to parents for discussions and active participation. In particular, leaders who described themselves as discussion leaders did not "walk the talk"; that is, they did not do what they said they do when leading groups. That could be explained by lack of professional awareness, group leadership, and pedagogical skills. In order to provide high-quality parental support, leaders need training in group leadership and pedagogy combined with supervision and support on a regular basis.

Keywords: group leadership, parental education group, Sweden.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / education
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Sweden