Despite the public health significance of problems such as substance abuse and depression among African American men, few evidence-based prevention strategies have been developed for these men and even fewer have focused on a strategy that uses their role as a father as a protection against poor health outcomes. This study proposes to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of the Fathers and Sons Program for reducing depression and drinking behavior and increasing substance use and mental health service utilization among nonresident African American fathers. It focuses on enhancing fathers’ parenting knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, connectedness with their sons, and awareness and use of community resources.
This theoretically-based, gender-specific, culturally relevant, family-centered program was originally designed to enhance parenting attitudes and behaviors among nonresident African American fathers and strengthen their relationship with their preadolescent sons as a way to prevent youth risky behaviors. It was developed using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to increase its relevance and appeal to the intended audiences. Preliminary evidence suggests the program is promising for improving health behaviors and well-being among fathers as well.
Our goal is to conduct a randomized control trial to evaluate the program for its long-term health benefits for both fathers and sons. The results of the original Fathers and Sons intervention program will be compared to a control group that will receive a family-based program focused on physical activity and nutrition. Because fathers and sons participate in the Fathers and Sons programs together, we will have the added benefit of examining how influencing father’s parenting attitudes and behaviors affect their sons’ health behaviors, offering intergenerational perspectives on men’s health.