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Bristol dads needed to explore the ups and downs of early parenthood

Press release issued: 22 October 2018

Researchers from the University of Bristol are looking for local dads to help with a new study exploring their early parenting experiences.

Thanks to a new £280,000 grant from the Wellcome Trust, researchers are taking a unique look at the role of fathers and their parenting when their partner has experienced mental health difficulties.

Although many of the 200 dads sought will come from Bristol’s Children of the 90s study, researchers want to recruit more fathers of six to 12-month-old babies from the Bristol area whose partner may or may not have experienced mental health difficulties during or after the pregnancy.

Recruited dads will be asked to take part in a range of activities, including keeping a diary to capture everyday activities with their child, use wearable technology to capture interactions during meal or play time, fill in a questionnaire and take part in interviews about their experiences of being a parent.  

Dr Iryna Culpin from the Centre for Academic Mental Health at the University of Bristol commented:

“Our three-year study will help influence a much-neglected area of mental health research – how dads contribute to the wellbeing of family life and their role in parenting when mothers experience mental health difficulties.  We know that mothers’ mental health is important for child development, and this new study will help us find out more about the role of fathers and their experiences of parenting in such families.

“In Bristol we have a wealth of health data from volunteers in the Children of the 90s study and we may find that dads who come forward will become valuable assets for future health research.”

Matthew Moriarty, aged 26, has been taking part in the Children of the 90s study since birth and is has just welcomed his second child. He commented: “I’ve been taking part in health research since I was born and think it can be really helpful. There’s a lot of advice out there for new mums but it would be beneficial for dads, especially if they are separated from their partner. For anyone thinking about becoming a research subject I would say just go for it – you have nothing to lose and will be helping future generations of new dads.”


Principal Investigator for the Children of the 90s study Dr Nic Timpson added:

“We have been interested in engaging with fathers throughout the running of the Children of the 90s and helping to understand things important for their health. This research represents a critically important area of focus for us and for the community as there is very little known about new fathers and their role, experience and the impact of this on health. This work addresses this brilliantly and we are delighted that it has received funding and that we can support it.”

Fathers who wish to take part should contact Dr Iryna Culpin, Centre for Academic Mental Health, Bristol Medical School, Oakfield House, BS8 2BN. E-mail:; Tel.: 0117 3310162.


Further information

  1. The new study is funded by the Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences and uses sociology, psychology and epidemiology to explore how men ‘do’ and experience fathering when their partners are affected by depression, and how important this is for children.

  2. Iryna Culpin is Wellcome Trust Research Fellow based at the Centre for Academic Mental Health, University of Bristol and has an Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Early Career Fellowship. 

  3. The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute nurtures health and biomedical research at Bristol and beyond. It supports pioneering and world-leading research to tackle today’s most pressing health challenges, striving to achieve better health for all.

They focus on:

  • building new interdisciplinary health research communities

  • innovative health research from the basic and molecular to clinical and social sciences

  • supporting early career researchers and clinicians

More information about the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Early Careers Fellowship scheme:


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