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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
LB, KF & HG conceived the review. KF, HG & DM determined the methods for the review. KA wrote and carried out the searching; KF reviewed the search strategy. KF, DM & HG screened the articles for inclusion. KF & DM undertook data extraction and quality appraisal. KF, DM, HG, & LB established the findings of the review. All authors helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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.
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.
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.
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