The relationship between fathers’ heavy episodic drinking and fathering involvement in five Asia-Pacific countries: An individual participant data meta-analysis
This study aimed to analyse the relationship between heavy episodic alcohol use and fathering involvement, consider the potential moderating effect of fathers’ experiences of childhood trauma on this relationship, and control for possible confounding of heavy episodic alcohol use (HED) with men’s attitudes toward gender equality in five countries.
Respondents overall reported significantly less fathering involvement if they reported heavy episodic alcohol use, with this relationship significant in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia, and in the same direction in Indonesia, but not evident in China and Sri Lanka.
Contrary to researchers’ expectations, they did not find overall that fathers’ experience of childhood trauma was directly associated with decreased involvement in parenting or that it moderated the effect of heavy episodic alcohol use on fathering involvement.
Our findings suggest tentatively that a reduction in heavy episodic [alcohol use] may result in greater positive involvement in families by men. Potentially, this could lead to direct effects upon women and children’s health, safety, finances and wellbeing.”Laslett, A-M., Kuntsche, S., Wilson, I.M., Taft, A., Fulu, E. & Jewkes, R. et al. (2022) The relationship between fathers’ heavy episodic drinking and fathering involvement in five Asia-Pacific countries: An individual participant data meta-analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
This study aims to increase understanding of the relationship between heavy episodic alcohol use (heavy episodic “drinking”, HED) and fathers’ involvement in parenting in five countries. The potential moderating effect of fathers’ experiences of childhood trauma is also studied, controlling for the possible confounding of the effect of HED by father’s attitudes toward gender equality, father’s age and father’s education.
United Nations Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence (UNMCS) survey data from 4562 fathers aged 18–49 years from Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Sri Lanka were used to assess the relationship between fathering involvement (e.g., helping children with their homework) and self-reported HED of 6+ alcoholic drinks in one occasion vs. non-HED and abstaining.
Moderating effects of a 13-item fathers’ childhood trauma (FCT) scale were tested and analyses were adjusted for gender-inequitable attitudes using the Gender-Equitable Men scale score. Bivariate and adjusted individual participant meta-analyses were used to determine effect estimates for each site and across all sites.
Fathers’ HED was associated with less positive parental involvement after adjusting for gender-equitable attitudes, FCT, age and education.
No overall interaction between HED and FCT was identified. Gender equitable attitudes were associated with fathering involvement in some countries but not overall (p = 0.07).
Heavy episodic alcohol use was associated with reduced positive fathering involvement.
These findings suggest that interventions to increase fathers’ involvement in parenting should include targeting reductions in fathers’ heavy episodic alcohol use.
Structural barriers to fathers’ involvement should be considered alongside heavy episodic alcohol use in future studies of fathers’ engagement with their children.