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Gender equality in Swedish child health centers: An analysis of their physical environments and parental behaviors
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Pediatrics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Pediatrics.
2015 (English)In: Semiotica, ISSN 0037-1998, E-ISSN 1613-3692, no 204, 1-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The aim of this study is to investigate the level of gender equality within the Swedish child health centers’ (CHCs) waiting rooms.


A total of 31 CHCs waiting rooms were analyzed using semiotic visual analysis to explore who the waiting rooms represented by coding the pictures, brochures, and magazines by gender using a manifest analysis, where the researchers coded what the pictures physically entailed, and a latent analysis, where the meaning of those pictures was discerned. In addition, 281 parental observations were completed at 25 of the CHCs by two observers. Inter-rater reliability was established and consensus was reached by using prescribed definitions of the waiting rooms.


Only 8 CHCs were categorized as Family-Centered, while 12 were Mother-Child Centered, 6 Child-Centered, 2 Women-Centered, and 3 were Neutral environments. The different designs between the categorized waiting rooms affected fathers’, but not the mothers’ involvement with respect to playing with their child and reading the posted information. When analyzing within one categorized environment, fathers were more likely to play with their child compared to mothers.


CHCs should consciously redesign their environments to also be inclusive of fathers so that they more habitually participate in their child’s health.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. no 204, 1-20 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, child health centers, environmental factors, parenting behavior, family policy, gender equality
National Category
Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified Pediatrics
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-246553DOI: 10.1515/sem-2014-0046ISI: 000351927800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-246553DiVA: diva2:793871
Available from: 2015-03-09 Created: 2015-03-09 Last updated: 2015-05-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. An Unequal Chance to Parent: Examples on Support Fathers Receive from the Swedish Child Health Field
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An Unequal Chance to Parent: Examples on Support Fathers Receive from the Swedish Child Health Field
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Father involvement benefits children, mothers, and themselves in a number of ways. Swedish legislation and Swedish society have promoted father involvement. At the same time, the Swedish child health field has also unequivocally states that both parents should feel welcomed and supported within that sphere. Despite these statements and policies, fathers feel neglected and invisible within and throughout the Swedish child health field, which includes prenatal clinics, birth and labor wards, postnatal clinics, child health centers, and parent support programs. Less is known however about the factors that influence father involvement in the child health centers, especially from the child health nurses’ perspective and the influence of the built environment. Additionally, parent support programs are another way through which parents receive support regarding their young child’s mental health, but very little research has focused on why fathers participate or the thoughts parents have regarding their participation, especially within a Swedish context.

The overall aim of this dissertation was to better understand some of the barriers fathers have when trying to participate in the female-dominated world of the Swedish child health field, especially during the child’s preschool years. In Study I, 17 child health nurses were interviewed regarding their thoughts on fathers, and in Study II, 31 child health centers’ built environments were assessed to see how inclusive they were of fathers. In Study III, a parent support program was assessed to see if mothers and fathers had different background characteristics for participating, and Study IV sought to understand the extent to which parents appreciated and used the information from the program.

These studies showed that child health nurses welcomed fathers, but did not actively invite them to participate. In addition, 75% of the child health centers did not have representations of fathers, but most child health centers had representations of mothers and/or children. Paternal behaviors positively changed if they were in an environment with either explicit paternal representations or only child representations. Mothers participated in the parent support program for several reasons, including if their child had perceived behavior problems, while fathers participated if they were stressed and perceived their child as having emotional problems. Parents believed the information they learned in the parent support program was valuable, and they continued using some strategies a year after the intervention.

Swedish family policies can affect parental involvement within the child health field, but the child health field is less inclusive of fathers than mothers, and it fails to meet the needs of fathers, which can then, in turn, negatively affect maternal, paternal, and child outcomes. Therefore, the Swedish child health field needs to continue working on improving their practices of treating both parents equally.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 88 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1079
Sweden, gender equality, father involvement, child health field, nurses, midwives, parental leave, family policy
National Category
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-246565 (URN)978-91-554-9189-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-04-29, Universitetshuset sal IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-04-07 Created: 2015-03-09 Last updated: 2015-04-17

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