What Do Fathers Contribute? Fathers in Situational Crisis: A Comparison of Asian and Western Cultures

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Yun Shan Tseng, PhD
Nursing Department, I Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will know the difference between Asian and western fathersí perception of their role when confronted with situational crises involving their children.

Learning Objective 2: Asian societies have an urgent need to understand a fatherís perception and emotional reactions toward family health, coping abilities when life-threatening events happen.

Purpose: Current studies of situational crisis are mostly based on western perceptions. Likewise, a few studies have explored fathers’ anxiety when they are under certain situational crises. No studies comparing the difference of fathers in a situational crisis between eastern and western cultures could be located. The purpose of the synthesis was to discuss Asian and western father’s perception of the fathers’ role within different situational crises related to their children, including critically ill children, chronically ill children, and children with mental/developmental disease. 

Methods: The literature search was conducted by using search engines, including PsycINFO, CINAHL, Taiwan Electronic Thesis and Dissertation System, Google, Google Scholar, Medline (OVID), and PubMed. Twenty-two 22 studies were reviewed and assigned to one of two categories, the father experiencing a situational crisis related to his child’s illness, or cultural influences on the paternal role.

Results: Paternal participation and role are affected by the social and cultural environment, social resources and family members. Fathers who have sick children tend to have negative emotional reactions, such as anxiety, fear, and anger. Nevertheless, Asian fathers are more patriarchal than western fathers. The literature review indicates that Asian and western fathers’ concepts and perceptions of crisis do not differ greatly.

It was concluded that there exists a gap in the literature with respect to knowledge of Asian fathers’ situational crisis surrounding their child’s illness, their coping strategies when faced with their child’s illness, as well as their emotional reactions toward family health. The reviewed studies were limited to English or Mandarin speaking families and Asian/western parents.

Conclusion: Further research should consider cultural factors, gender difference and pay more attention to father’s perceptions and emotional reactions, which may include single or same-gender fathers. Families in a situational crisis would benefit from the healthcare professionals acquiring enhanced knowledge and sensitivity about cultural diversity.