Systematic review of the concept ‘male involvement in maternal health’ by natural language processing and descriptive analysis

Auteurs & affiliatie

Anna Galle, Gaëlle Plaieser, Tessa Van Steenstraeten, Sally Griffin, Nafissa Bique Osman, Kristien Roelens, Olivier Degomme


Introduction Experts agree that male involvement in maternal health is a multifaceted concept, but a robust assessment is lacking, hampering interpretation of the literature. This systematic review aims to examine the conceptualisation of male involvement in maternal health globally and review commonly used indicators. Methods PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science and CINAHL databases were searched for quantitative literature (between the years 2000 and 2020) containing indicators representing male involvement in maternal health, which was defined as the involvement, participation, engagement or support of men in all activities related to maternal health. Results After full-text review, 282 studies were included in the review. Most studies were conducted in Africa (43%), followed by North America (23%), Asia (15%) and Europe (12%). Descriptive and text mining analysis showed male involvement has been conceptualised by focusing on two main aspects: psychosocial support and instrumental support for maternal health care utilisation. Differences in measurement and topics were noted according to continent with Africa focusing on HIV prevention, North America and Europe on psychosocial health and stress, and Asia on nutrition. One-third of studies used one single indicator and no common pattern of indicators could be identified. Antenatal care attendance was the most used indicator (40%), followed by financial support (17%), presence during childbirth (17%) and HIV testing (14%). Majority of studies did not collect data from men directly. Discussion Researchers often focus on a single aspect of male involvement, resulting in a narrow set of indicators. Aspects such as communication, shared decision making and the subjective feeling of support have received little attention. We believe a broader holistic scope can broaden the potential of male involvement programmes and stimulate a gender-transformative approach. Further research is recommended to develop a robust and comprehensive set of indicators for assessing male involvement in maternal health.




Anna Galle
Olivier Degomme

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