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Working out dads (WOD): a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a group-based peer support intervention for men experiencing mental health difficulties in early fatherhood

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posted on 2022-09-27, 04:08 authored by Rebecca GialloRebecca Giallo, M Seymour, A Fogarty, C Hosking, LA Williams, Amanda CooklinAmanda Cooklin, A Grobler, J Ride, L Leach, Brian OldenburgBrian Oldenburg, C Wood, R Borschmann, J O’Brien, K Evans, Karli TreyvaudKarli Treyvaud, C Garfield, S Brown, Jan NicholsonJan Nicholson
Background: Approximately one in ten men experience mental health difficulties during the early years of fatherhood, and these can have negative impacts on children and families. However, few evidence-based interventions targeting fathers’ mental health are available. The aim of the trial is to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Working Out Dads (WOD) – a facilitated peer support group intervention for fathers of young children, in reducing psychological distress and other mental health symptoms. Methods: This trial will employ a parallel-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of WOD peer support group intervention compared to usual care (a 30-min mental health and service focused phone consultation with a health professional). A total of 280 fathers of young children (aged 0-4 years) who are experiencing mental health difficulties and/or are at risk of poor mental health will be recruited. Randomisation and analyses will be at the level of the individual participant. The primary outcome is psychological distress symptoms, measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) from baseline to 24 weeks post randomisation. A range of secondary outcomes will be assessed including suicidal ideation; mental health disorders, specific symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress; social support, quality of life, health service use, and health care costs. Data will be collected at baseline, 10- and 24 weeks post-randomisation. Discussion: This trial will examine the effectiveness of a novel group-based peer support intervention in reducing the psychological distress and other mental health symptoms of fathers compared to usual care. The economic and process evaluation will guide policy decision making along with informing the future implementation of WOD on a larger scale if effectiveness is demonstrated. Trial registration: The current trial has been registered with (Registration ID - NCT04813042). Date of Registration: March 22nd, 2021.


This study is funded by the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund Million Minds Mission (targeted call for Suicide Prevention), and supported by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Program. These funding bodies do not have a role in the design or conduct of the study, or preparation of the manuscript. They have not peer reviewed the study protocol. No funding or assistance has been received from a commercial organization.


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BMC Psychiatry





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