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Being a dad is under the spotlight at the University of Bristol

17 June 2019

Researchers at the University of Bristol are about to delve deeper into the relationship between dads and their new baby.

It’s all part of an initiative funded by the Wellcome Trust to know more about the role of fathers in child development, including families where the mother has experienced mental health difficulties.

Now researchers are looking for more dads from the Bristol area to get involved alongside fathers from Bristol’s Children of the 90s study.  Dads will be asked to wear a head camera with their baby for feeding or playing at home; be interviewed by a researcher with and without their partner and fill in questionnaires.

To take part dads should be the parent of a three to twelve month baby and available for interviews. A small payment will be made for participants.

Dr Iryna Culpin from the Centre for Academic Mental Health at the University of Bristol commented:

“Our three-year study will help influence a much-neglected area of mental health research – how dads contribute to the wellbeing of family life and their role in parenting when mothers experience mental health difficulties. 

“In Bristol we have a wealth of health data from volunteers in the Children of the 90s study and we may find that dads who come forward will become valuable for future health research.”

The Children of the 90s study does include fathers for clinics and questionnaires and key findings include:

  • We could show that postnatal depression is an issue for dads as well as mums (1998)
  • Our 1000th paper looked at links between teenage smoking and the body mass index of their sons (2014)
  • The quality of your marriage can benefit your heart health (2017) – uses the focus on fathers’ data
  • We’ve learnt more about the effect of a father’s mental health and mood on their children, particularly sons (2005)

Principal Investigator for the Children of the 90s study Dr Nic Timpson added:

“We have been interested in engaging with fathers throughout the running of the Children of the 90s and finding out what is important for their health. This is an important area of focus for us especially as there is very little known about new fathers and their role, experience and the impact within new families.”

Fathers who wish to take part should contact Dr Iryna Culpin, Centre for Academic Mental Health, Bristol Medical School, Oakfield House, BS8 2BN. E-mail:; Tel.: 0117 3310162.

Further information

The study is funded by the Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences and uses sociology, psychology and epidemiology to explore how men ‘do’ and experience fathering when their partners experience depression, and how important this is for children.

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