The barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation experienced by women’s partners during pregnancy and the post-partum period: a systematic review of qualitative research



Flemming K, Graham H, McCaughan D, Angus K & Bauld L (2015) The barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation experienced by women’s partners during pregnancy and the post-partum period: a systematic review of qualitative research. BMC Public Health, 15, Art. No.: 849.

Background Smoking in pregnancy can cause substantial harm and, while many women quit, others continue to smoke throughout pregnancy. The role of partners is an important but relatively under-researched factor in relation to women's smoking in pregnancy; partner's smoking status and attitudes to smoking cessation are important influences in a pregnant women's attempt to quit. Further understanding of how partners perceive the barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation in pregnancy is needed, particularly from qualitative studies where participants describe these issues in their own words. Methods A synthesis of qualitative research of partners' views of smoking in pregnancy and post-partum was conducted using meta-ethnography. Searches were undertaken from 1990 to January 2014 using terms for partner/household, pregnancy, post-partum, smoking, qualitative in seven electronic databases. The review was reported in accordance with the ‘Enhancing transparency in reporting the synthesis of qualitative research' (ENTREQ) statement. Results Nine studies reported in 14 papers were included, detailing the experience of 158 partners; the majority were interviewed during the post-partum period. Partners were all male, with a single exception. Socioeconomic measures indicated that most participants were socially disadvantaged. The synthesis identified recurring smoking-related perceptions and experiences that hindered (barriers) and encouraged (facilitators) partners to consider quitting during the woman's pregnancy and into the post-partum period. These were represented in five lines of argument relating to: smoking being an integral part of everyday life; becoming and being a father; the couple's relationship; perceptions of the risks of smoking; and their harm reduction and quitting strategies. Conclusions The cluster of identified barriers and facilitators to quitting offers pointers for policy and practice. The workplace emerges as an important space for and influence on partners' smoking habits, suggesting alternative cessation intervention locations for future parents. Conversely, health and community settings are seen to offer little support to fathers. Interventions centred on valued personal traits, like will-power and autonomy, may have particular salience. The review points, too, to the potential for health information that directly addresses perceived weaknesses in official advice, for example, around causal mechanisms and effects and around contrary evidence of healthy babies born to smokers. Systematic review registration PROSPERO 2013: CRD42013004170

Pregnancy; Smoking; Partners; Qualitative research; Meta-ethnography; Systematic review

BMC Public Health: Volume 15

FundersNational Institute for Health Research
Publication date03/09/2015
Date accepted by journal17/08/2015
PublisherBiomed Central

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Ms Kathryn Angus
Ms Kathryn Angus

Research Officer, Institute for Social Marketing

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