Experiences from conception to age six have the most important influence of any time in the life

Postpartum & Dads

Postpartum Depression and the Impact on DADS

Summary of the Project

Postpartum mood disorders represent the most frequent form of maternal morbidity following delivery. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a major health problem for many women. while maternal PPD have been greatly researched in the last decade, much less is known about the impact of PPD on fathers.
In previous research by Letourneau (2005) exploring the support needs of women with PPD, the women perceived their husbands as supportive but restricted by their limited understanding of PPD. Research indicates that a significant number of partners of women with PPD may also experience symptoms of depression, such as low mood and heightened anxiety. The affect of PPD on marital dysfunction as been well documented in the literature; however, less is known about the sources of the discord between husband and wife and resultant outcomes.
Like mothers, the well-being of fathers has been shown to have an impact on the normal development of their children. However, clinical interventions have focused on the mother-infant interaction and little attention has been paid to the relationship between fathers and their young. An exploration of mens' experiences is needed to fully understand the impact of PPD on fathers in order to develop interventions supportive of their needs. In this qualitative study, one-on-one interviews will be conducted with male partners of women who have experienced PPD. A semi-structured interview guide will be utilized to collect exploratory data on father's experiences with PPD.

Goals and Objectives

The objective of the study is to describe the experiences of fathers whose partners have had PPD. the results will enable the researchers to develop and test an intervention for fathers affected by PPD so that they, in turn, can better support their partners.

Progress to Date

Pilot Study:In 2009 we completed a pilot study in which we interviewed 11 men whose partners had postpartum depression. We asked them to describe their experiences, support needs, resources, barriers and preferences for support. A number of fathers reported that, althought they recognized that they detected changes in partners' emotional status, they did not initially identify it as PPD. Once their partners were diagnosed with PPD, fathers reported having difficulty identifying sources of support. Fathers described a number of barriers preventing them from accessing support for their partners including lack of information regarding PPD resources and fear of the possible stigma associated with PPD. When speaking about their personal experiences with PPD, some fathers revealed that they had experienced a range of depressive symptoms, including anxiety, sleep disturbances, fatigue, irratiability, feeling sad or down, changes in appetite, and thoughts of bringing harm to self or baby. Results of this pilot study have been used to support the funding and implementation of a larger-scale CIHR funded study and the intervention test to follow. (Final Report, full document)
Nationwide Study:Recruiitment and data collection for this follow-up study has been completed.

This study has now been completed, for additional information please contact the study principal investigator Dr. Nicole Letourneau at Nicole.Letourneau@ucalgary.ca.

Members of the Academic Team


Principal Investigator:

Nicole Letourneau
Faculty of Nursing,
University of Calgary, AB



Linda Duffett-Leger
Faculty of Nursing
University of New Brunswick

Linda is a nurse and full-time doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary program at UNB. She is currently Project Director of the MOMS study, and also coordinated the postpartum depression (PPD) study which explored the support needs, barriers to support, and support preferences of women experiencing postpartum depression in New Brunswick and Alberta. Other related work experience includes: Project Director for Dr. Barbara Paterson, Tier I CRC in chronic illness at the UNB Nursing Faculty, exploring the emerging roles of nurses in a nurse-managed community clinic based on a primary healthcare model.

As a Masters of Nursing student at UNB, Linda completed web-based research on the cervical cancer screening practices of young women attending university. As a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary program at UNB, she plans to develop an innovative and interactive web-based intervention to promote cervical screening behaviours in the female student population. Using a participatory-research design, Linda will collaborate with staff from the National Research Council (NRC) e-Health Institute and invite the “users” to be part of the research process. The goal is to develop technologies that young women can easily understand and utilize.



Miriam Stewart
Social Support Research Program
University of Alberta

Dr. Miriam Stewart is Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and in Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine (University of Alberta). She is a Health Senior Scholar, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and a former Medical Research Council of Canada and National Health Research Development Program (MRC/NHRDP) Scholar.

Dr. Stewart was former Director of the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre, co-principal investigator and co-creator of the Maritime Centre of Excellence on Women's Health and Director and Chair of the Centre for Health Promotion Studies (Alberta). She is currently Director of the Social Support Research Program at the University of Alberta. Research funding generated over the past decade includes over $10,000,000 from national peer review agencies (e.g., Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, NHRDP, MRC, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation), other national and provincial foundations, and government.
For more information: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/12735.html



Pat McGrath
IWK Health Centre
Dalhousie University

Dr. Patrick MrGrath is Vice President, Research at the IWK Health Centre. He has a distinguished record as a researcher on innovative ways of delivering health care to families and on pain in children. His research has been recognized by election to the Royal Society and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada. He founded the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Dalhousie University where he is Professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry.

Patrick holds numerous grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and other agencies. He served on the Nova Scotia Health Research Board and serves on the Board of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.



Andrea Doucet
Faculty of Social Science
Carleton University

Andrea was born and raised in a small town in northern New Brunswick (Bathurst) and left at 17 to take up creative writing with W.O. Mitchell at York University. One political theory course at York convinced her to pursue political interests first and creative writing second, a dialectical tension between politics and writing that continues to frame her professional life. Her academic degrees are: a BA Honors in Political Science (York); an MA in International Development (Carleton); and a PHD in Social & Political Sciences (at Cambridge University on a Commonwealth Scholarship and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Scholarship). After completing her PhD, she took up a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship at Cambridge University. Her teaching jobs have included being a lecturer at Cambridge, an Assistant Professor at Saint Mary’s, and she has been at Carleton since 1998, currently as Associate Professor.
For more information: http://www.carleton.ca/socanth/faculty/doucet.html



Karen Benzies
Faculty of Nursing
Univsersity of Calgary

Dr. Benzies is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. Benzies studies how family and community environments influence the health and development of infants and young children over time. Specifically, she has studied the effects of parenting stress and hostile-ineffective parenting during infancy on the development of child behaviour problems. In a community-university partnership with the Calgary Urban Project Society, One World Child Development Centre, she is currently evaluating the effects of a multiple intervention program for low income families with preschoolers. Another current study examines the effects of enhanced training on the ability of agencies offering parenting programs to evaluate their outcomes. With colleagues, she has extended research about mother- and father-infant interaction and demonstrated the efficacy of a parenting intervention for first time fathers. Benzies’ most satisfying accomplishments have come from creating linkages among researchers, service providers, and policy decision-makers to improve the health and well-being of children and their families.



Cindy-Lee Dennis
Faculty of Nursing
University of Toronto

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis joined the Faculty of Nursing in 2002 after completing a CIHR-funded postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology. She received her BScN from the University of Toronto, her MScN from the University of Western Ontario, and her PhD from the University of Toronto. Dr. Dennis is the recipient of the national Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award and the provincial Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Career Scientist Award. She has published numerous papers and conducted several evidence-based reviews and research studies on the detection, prevention, and treatment of postpartum depression, including a recently published Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. She also just co-authored a book for health professionals caring for women with postpartum depression (available through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website) and was the team leader for the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) Best Practice Guideline on Postpartum Depression (available through the RNAO website).

The major focus of Dr. Dennis’ research program is to rigorously evaluate the effect of psychosocial/psychological interventions on diverse maternal and infant health outcomes. This incorporates four related areas: (1) conducting randomized controlled trials, (2) completing Cochrane systematic reviews and meta-analyses, (3) examining the health of new immigrant mothers, and (4) developing, translating, and psychometrically testing measures, including the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale.
For more information: http://www.cindyleedennis.ca/



National Advisory Committee Members


Carol Hauer:
NAC Chair

I have been working in the child and parenting field for over 10 years after graduating with a degree in Developmental Psychology from Eastern Washington State University.  The programs I have been fortunate to be involved in and develop include:  Student Emergency Services, Single Parent Program, Culture Club for Immigrant Girls, Baby Club for Expecting and New Immigrant Mothers, Parent Resource Line and the Postpartum Support Program.  Over the last 4 years my focus has been on PPD and support to women and their families as well as training other professionals, support volunteers and a variety of practicum students in this area.  Current practice has created an interest in the need for more Father supports around postpartum and we are very excited to be involved with this project.

I am also involved in children’s rights and am a founding member of the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre (CLERC) where we advocate, inform and represent children and youth in non-criminal legal matters.  This work is also very important to me as the mother of a very vivacious 7 year old daughter and step parent to a 15 and 18 year old.  Growing up in Yellowknife, NWT, I appreciate the beauty of the Rockies in my home of Calgary, AB and my partner and I love to travel the winding roads on our cruisers!

Derek Jones:

Derek is a step dad of two wonderful boys. He has been a strong advocate for children’s rights in his community with particular emphasis on the role of the father in parenting. He has made presentations at Provincial, Regional, and Atlantic conferences on involved fathering. Derek has worked as the coordinator of the ‘Dads Making A Difference’ program in Saint John, NB.  The program offers many workshops to increase and expand the fathers’ parenting skills.  It also allows for opportunities for dads and their children to interact in a meaningful way while developing a social network for both the dads and their children. As a representative for Atlantic Canada on the Advisory Committee of Health Canada’s National Fathering project ‘My Daddy Matters Because…’ Derek has been involved in research, social marketing and the development of a Father’s Toolkit that was distributed nationally. Currently Derek is working towards his Bachelor of Elementary Education at the University of New Brunswick.

Dr. Robert Pogue:

Dr. Robert Pogue is a psychotherapist in private practice and a Registered Psychologist with eleven years of clinical experience working with a wide range of presenting issues and a diverse patient population. His PhD research was in the area of understanding the lived emotional experience of "father hunger" in adult men. As a result, he has a keen interest in how the stressors placed on fathers influence their ability to be present and available to their children and partners. Prior to his work as a psychotherapist, Robert worked for ten years as a natural gas pipeline engineer and as a result has an intimate understanding of the presssures of corporate life and the struggle to balance work and family. Robert lives and works in Calgary, Alberta. He is married and the father of two young children.


John Hoffman:

John Hoffman is National Magazine Award-winning journalist and Canada’s leading writer on the subject of fatherhood. John has written over fifty popular media articles on fatherhood for various publications mostly for Today’s Parent and Great Expectations (currently titled Today’s Parent Pregnancy and Birth) magazines. His work has also appeared in Reader’s Digest, The Toronto Sun, Today¹s Parent Newborn, and Transitions (Vanier Institute of the Families). John has also written six educational booklets for fathers, five of them under the auspices of the Father Involvement Initiative ­Ontario Network. Two of these booklets have been translated into Japanese for distribution by organizations working with families in Japan. Currently continues to be a regular contributor and columnist with Today’s Parent and also serves as Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator for the Father Involvement Research Alliance on a part-time basis


Tim Paquette:


Tim currently is Chair for the Father Involvement Initiative-Ontario Network (FII-ON: www.cfii.ca) a regional initiative, with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, devoted to promoting responsible father involvement in Ontario and which has acted as a catalyst for other provinces and territories within Canada to form their own regional father initiatives.

Tim was also the project coordinator for 3 years for the Public Health Agency of Canada’s national project fund on Fathering entitled: “My Daddy Matters Because…”(www.mydad.ca) which developed many tools, including public service announcements for TV, radio, and Print that promote and acknowledge the role of fathers in the lives of children. These tools have been shared with family service organizations in both Japan and Australia. In fact, the Japanese NPO’s are using the tools developed by Canada to create their own father involvement framework and have looked to Canada as a trailblazer in this field. In addition, Tim coordinated one of the first programs for young fathers in Ottawa that became part of the funding formula for CAPC/CPNP.

Tim is a Community Practitioner Representative for the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA)/Community University Research Alliance (CURA) Project entitled: “Changing Fatherhood: Supporting Involvement” as part of the Young Dads Cluster and the New Dads Cluster that is funded by SSHRC for 5 years. One of first tools to emerge from this national project is a Policy Inventory that affects father involvement. Currently FII-ON is working with Dr. Neil Campbell and Dads Can from London to begin the process of eventually rolling out the Dad Class, one of the first and only classes for fathers, on a regional level. As well, Tim also facilitates a prenatal/early postnatal parenting course from Invest in Kids and carries out father involvement community trainings with fathers, mothers, organizations, and communities. Tim is also the proud father of 2 children aged 10 and 7 years of age.


Bill Watson:


A father of four, Dr. Bill Watson has been practicing and teaching Family Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto for over 25 years. His practice has included obstetrics, pediatrics, counselling with a special interest in the Early years issues such as postpartum, parenting, the 18-month developmental assessment, childhood behavior problems and fathers. He ran a monthly Fathers’ group for ten years at St. Michael’s and has done a study on fathers’ reactions in the postpartum.

Bill is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto where he has also been Chair of the Working with Families group. This interdisciplinary group of family physicians, social workers, and therapists has as its purpose the teaching of Family and psychosocial issues to family doctors. Bill has given many workshops to Family Physicians across Canada on Fathers, Postpartum, Parenting, healthy child development.

Dr. Lorraine Natho:


I am a McGill graduate in Family Medicine. I have been practising in the Calgary area for 6 years doing General Family Practice and Obstetrics. I have done extra training at the BC Reproductive Mental Health Program and in Emotion-Focused Therapy in Toronto. I have my own practice in Reproductive Mental Health. My practice includes mental health issues that arise around premenstrual syndrome, therapeutic abortions, pregnancy loss, infertility, antepartum, postpartum, giving a child for adoption, fetal loss, having a child with a serious illness etc.

Murray Weeks:

Murray Weeks is the proud father of two boys (Connor, 10 and Lucas, 4) and lives in Fredericton with his wife, Heather of fifteen years. Murray and Heather have experienced the effects of post-partum depression with the birth of their first son.

He is a registered social worker with eleven years of clinical experience in the government sector providing individual, family and group work practice in the areas of mental health and addictions. His private work has focused on men and health, in particular the area of family violence to assist men in finding equality in their primary relationships. He is actively involved with mentoring undergraduate social work interns in his roles as Field Supervisor and Direct Practice Marker for St. Thomas University. Murray is currently a graduate student at Memorial University and is serving as a consultant on the DADS Pilot Study currently underway.


Linda King:

I am a married mother of 3 sons Christopher, Steven and David. I have been a postpartum support counsellor/facilitator/trainer for the Pacific Post Partum Support Society in Vancouver BC for the past 16 years. I am part of the PPPSS team that continuously updates and develops the support program, publications and training workshops which are delivered to health care and support people in communities. My training is in Family Support Work but my most valuable training has come from working for PPPSS and my personal experience with postpartum distress. I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my first and third sons. My husband Marti and I know first hand what it’s like to go through a very difficult postpartum reaction. I received wonderful support from the Pacific Post Partum Support Society. I attended a group and received telephone support. My husband attended a fathers’ information night. The opportunity to speak candidly with other mothers in a safe facilitated group setting contributed greatly to my eventual wellness. I continue to use the tools I learned in the group. My own experience plus my interest in mothering, parenting and families fuels the passion I bring to my work. The Pacific Post Partum Support Society is a pioneer in the field and began in 1972 as a grass roots organization. We listen to the voices of women and men to support the wellbeing of the family.

Janine Neyedley:

Early in my Social Work training I became passionate about women’s issues and as a University student facilitated groups for women in violent relationships.  I was also knew early on that I wanted to help children and began training in Regina on the Child Protection Abuse Unit.   My experience broadened to working with families as a whole.

After convocating in 1997, I moved to Alberta and have spent the majority of my career in the Child Protection field.  After my first daughter was born I no longer wanted to work full time.  I minimized my workload and began completing Adoption and Private Guardianship home studies for the government for a period of time, followed by providing individual and family counselling as a Family School Wellness Worker for a couple of years. 

My specialized training and experience include individual and family assessment, individual and family counselling, risk assessment, suicide assessment, crisis intervention, investigations, case planning, case management, working with hard to reach clients, threat assessment, and critical incident stress management.  I have Level 11 American Sign Language which I  am teaching to my children as a means of early communication, and experience with a second language.

Currently I am facilitating a group for women with Postpartum depression in Sylvan Lake, Alberta. I am a member of the Alberta College of Social Workers. With the help of the community’s Family Education Support Worker, and two very passionate moms in the community who experienced Postpartum Depression, we developed a program we call “Sylvan Lake Post Partum Support Program”.  The main focus of our program is our weekly support group as well as telephone support.  Our support group has been running weekly since April 2007 with good attendance and incredible group member support.  I look forward to assisting with the DADS study in any way that I can.  With more insight into Postpartum Depression and it’s affect on fathers, more affective services for individuals and families will benefit children and families together.

Dr. Wendy Alexander

Dr. Wendy Alexander received her medical degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) in 1990 and completed her Paediatric training (McGill University & University of Calgary) in 1994. She also holds Bachelor degrees in Medical Science and in Electrical Engineering.

Dr. Alexander has been a practicing paediatrician in Saint John, NB since 1994 and is one of the Atlantic Health Science Corporation clinic physicians for the Paediatric Diabetic and Paediatric Asthma clinics. She also lectures through the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics at both Dalhousie University and MUN.

Her volunteer positions include work on a number of committees including the New Brunswick Paediatric Society (Treasurer), NB Peer Assessment Committee (Paediatrics), National Child Day Conference Committee (Treasurer), NB Lung Association (Paediatric Advisor) and the Paediatrics Patient & Family Care Team.

Dr. Robin Williams:


A pediatrician and a public health physician, Dr. Williams has been the Medical Officer of Health for Niagara Region since 1995. A native of Niagara Falls, she has remained dedicated to improving the health status of all residents, with a special focus on children, throughout her career. Dr. Williams has a long time interest in children and is a Clinical Professor,  Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University and is a founding member of Fraser Mustard’s Council for Early Child Development.

Dr. Williams leads a staff of over 600 public health professionals and support staff with a budget of $61.8 million. The Niagara Region has 420,000 residents, living in rural and urban settings, across twelve municipalities.

In her capacity as Medical Officer of Health, her responsibilities include areas as diverse as communicable disease control, food safety, the application and enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, Niagara Emergency Medical Services and general emergency measures response.

David Este:

Dave Este is a Professor and the current Associate Dean (Research and Partnerships) at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. His teaching and research interests include social work practice with immigrants and refugees, management of human service organizations, qualitative research methods, and mental health. He is currently involved in a number of research projects including the New Canadian Children and Youth Study and the Racism, Violence, and Health Study, which is examining how racism and other forms of violence impact the health and well-being of African Canadians in Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary.

Ed Bader:

Ed is Project Coordinator of FOCUS ON FATHERS, an educational program for fathers of young children in York Region. This program is co-sponsored by Catholic Community Services of York Region and the Regional Municipality of York. In addition, he teaches in the Counselling and Psychotherapy Five Weekend Learning Program for family physicians, sponsored by the Working with Families Institute of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Ed's interest in fatherhood is based on his own experience as the father of Daniel and Beth Ann, and now as the grandfather of Christian (6). In 1974, as Family Life Education Director for the Family Service Association of Toronto, Ed developed and coordinated a sixteen-year longitudinal study of the impact of premarriage courses. From 1978 to 1997, he taught in the Pre-and Post-Natal Program at the Flemingdon Health Centre in Don Mills. In 1994, he and Dr. Edward Osborne held a total of eight focus groups for fathers from different ethnic groups, teen fathers, fathers attending pre-natal classes, and fathers in programs at two social service agencies. Ed was Consultant for Rosalie Hall's Program for Fathers in 1995. In 1999, he and Noel Cooper, a former Family Life Education Coordinator, established FOCUS ON FATHERS for fathers of children under six years of age.

Dean McKellar:

Dean's work with men began in 1989 with the development of instructional videotapes for practitioners focusing on "Men & Separation".  Dean has been working with and on behalf of men for the City of Edmonton since 1990.  Dean has played a key role in the development of a Men’s services model which includes weekly drop-in support groups, structured weekly sessions, intensive weekend experiences and mentor training. In 1999 Dean administered an environmental scan of services for men in the City of Edmonton and highlighted the need to broaden the understanding of men’s social/psychological concerns, resulting needs and patterns of engaging services.  Dean has presented at provincial  and national conferences and was a member of the organizing committee for the "2006 Edmonton's Men's Wellness Forum" which examined the service needs of immigrant men, gay/bi-sexual men, street involved men and aboriginal men as expressed by members of theses populations.  Dean has also been a driving force behind the establishment of municipal and provincial men's services networks.

Janet Siverns

Janet Siverns is a public health nurse in Halton Region with over a decade of experience working with new families experiencing postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders.  She is a founding member and past chair of the Halton Perinatal Mood Disorders Coalition. She has been instrumental in establishing postpartum depression peer support groups in Milton and Oakville and has a keen interest in seeking innovative ways to support all those afflicted by postpartum depression – the mothers, their partners, and their children.

Janet is an instructor and MScN student at McMaster University’s School of Nursing. Her masters’ research is a descriptive qualitative study detailing the experiences of the transition to parenthood for first-time fathers whose partners have postpartum depression.

Judy Evans:

PPD Network
Regional Manager, Immunization & Adult Services, Capital Health, Edmonton

Linda Duffley:

PPD Network
Regional Manager, Immunization & Adult Services, Capital Health, Edmonton

Tim Harvey:

Park Street Elementary, Social Learning Program
Fredericton, NB

Corrie Rhyasen:

Postpartum Depression Disorder Support Network, (network for facilitators & professionals working with women with PPD.
Stony Plain, AB