Family Systems Theory

3 min

The Healthy Male Plus Paternal ‘Talking to Dads’ resource is built around established theories and frameworks that can guide health professionals’ communication with fathers.

Fathers (and others who are parents but do not give birth themselves) can be marginalised when accessing healthcare services for fertility and reproduction. Having them feel welcome and involved can provide substantial benefits to them, their partners and their children.

Family Systems Theory considers a family as a group of individuals with unique interactions between members (e.g., interactions between father and mother differ from those between siblings, or between parent and child). The whole family system is influenced by external factors, as a consequence of impacts on individuals (e.g., mum getting a promotion at work, a child’s conflict with a peer) and the repercussions resulting from interactions between family members.

Family Systems Theory demonstrates how responses of fathers to interactions with healthcare systems and health professionals can affect other individuals within the family system, and the family as a whole.

Thus, Family Systems Theory provides a rationale for improving communication with fathers as a means of benefiting their partners and children as individuals, and the entire family. Family Systems Theory also provides guidance about how health professionals can communicate effectively with fathers so that they feel engaged during healthcare visits.

How can you find out more? 

We have some excellent resources available should you want to learn more about this project: 

  • Find the Plus Paternal webpage here
  • Download the Case for Change report here
  • Check out the Talking to Dads Language Guide here
  • Access the eLearning course here
  • Download the resource kit here
  • Plus Paternal: Conversations webinars: Healthy Male hosted a series of free webinars to explore ways to systematically improve men’s engagement and support as they seek to, or become fathers. The webinars featured panellists from a range of disciplines, with opportunities for the audience to raise questions.


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