Anxiety among fathers during the prenatal and postpartum period: a meta-analysis

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2021 Jun;42(2):152-161. doi: 10.1080/0167482X.2021.1885025. Epub 2021 Feb 25.


Introduction: The purpose of this review was to determine the prevalence of anxiety among fathers during the perinatal (pre- and post-natal) period.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted to identify studies published between 1995-2020. One hundred and seventy-two of the records met inclusion criteria and full texts were screened for eligibility. The authors followed PRISMA guidelines to extract the data.

Results: A total of 23 studies, representing 40,124 participants, are included in this meta-analysis. The overall random effects estimate of paternal perinatal anxiety was 10.69% (95% confidence interval (CI): 8.14 - 13.91%). Rates of paternal perinatal anxiety demonstrated significant heterogeneity that was large in magnitude (Q = 304,494, p < .001, I2 = 99.93 and τ2 = .5381). Study quality rating did not appear to moderate rates of paternal perinatal anxiety (low: 10.74%; 95% CI: 6.56-17.11%; high: 10.65%; 95% CI: 6.02- 18.15%).

Discussion: Paternal perinatal anxiety rates in this meta-analysis are considerably higher than the global WHO regional prevalence rates for anxiety among men suggesting the transition into parenthood may place men at greater risk for anxiety.

Keywords: Paternal anxiety; depression; mental health; perinatal; prenatal.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression*
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy