Self-rated health and mental health of lone fathers compared with lone mothers and partnered fathers: a population-based cross-sectional study
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BACKGROUND: Lone parenthood is associated with poorer health; however, the vast majority of previous studies have examined lone mothers and only a few have focused on lone fathers. We aimed to examine the self-rated health and mental health status among a large population-based cross-sectional sample of Canadian lone fathers compared with both partnered fathers and lone mothers. METHODS: We investigated differences in self-rated health and mental health among 1058 lone fathers compared with 20 692 partnered fathers and 5725 lone mothers using the Ontario component of the Canadian Community Health Survey (2001-2013). Multivariable logistic regression was used to compare the odds of poor/fair self-rated health and mental health between the study groups while adjusting for a comprehensive list of sociodemographic factors, stressors and lifestyle factors. RESULTS: Lone fathers and lone mothers showed similar prevalence of poor/fair self-rated health (11.6% and 12.5%, respectively) and mental health (6.2% and 8.4%, respectively); the odds were similar even after multivariable adjustment. Lone fathers showed higher odds of poor/fair self-rated health (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.17) and mental health (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.26 to 3.46) than partnered fathers after adjustment for sociodemographic factors; however, these differences were no longer significant after accounting for stressors, including low income and unemployment. CONCLUSIONS: In this large population-based study, lone fathers had worse self-rated health and mental health than partnered fathers and similarly poor self-rated health and mental health as lone mothers. Interventions, supports and social policies designed for single parents should also recognise the needs of lone fathers.
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