“Our research highlights that single fathers have higher mortality, and demonstrates
a need for public health policies to help identify and support these men”…
The observational study – published in The Lancet Public Health journal on 14
February 2018 – tracked more than 40 000 people in Canada for 11 years.
Children outside marriage
Single-parent families are becoming increasingly common around the world due to
growing rates of divorce, separations, and couples having children outside marriage.
Previous research on single parents has largely focused on single mothers, and no
study to date has compared single fathers and mothers.
Single fathers – unhealthier lifestyles
“While our study does not identify the exact cause of this, we did find that single
fathers also tend to have unhealthier lifestyles, which could be an important area to
address to improve health in this high-risk group,” says lead author Dr Maria Chiu,
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and University of Toronto, Canada.
The participants completed questionnaires to give details of their lifestyle and
sociodemographic status, including their fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity,
and binge drinking. Single fathers were also older, had a higher prevalence of
cancer, and were more likely to have cardiovascular disease. They were also more
likely to have had an emergency medical visit or hospital admission in the past year.
While the leading cause of death for single fathers remained unclear, single fathers
were more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles. For example, they ate fewer fruit and
vegetables, and were more likely to binge drink than single mothers and partnered
Patients motivated to adhere to treatment plans
“Doctors’ appointments could be an opportunity for doctors to engage with single
fathers to help them to improve their health. Research has shown that these
conversations can help to motivate patients to adhere to treatment plans, make
better decisions about their health, and influence their behaviour and recovery.
Where possible, investing time in this way could be beneficial to help improve the
health of this high-risk group,” concludes Dr Chiu.
For complete article, see: www.lancet.com
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