THE EFFECT of PARENTAL LEAVE on PARENTS' MENTAL HEALTH: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS

Amy Heshmati , Stockholm University
Helena Honkaniemi, Stockholm University
Sol P. Juárez, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute

Introduction: The transition to parenthood is stressful as it denotes a major life change that occurs within a short time frame. Unsurprisingly, mental health disorders are common among parents during the postpartum period. Parental leave may help alleviate mental health symptoms by preventing or reducing stress around childbirth and infancy. We systematically reviewed the international evidence on the association between parental leave and mental health among mothers and fathers. Methods: The search was performed using Ovid MEDLINE, Web of Science, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Scopus and only included quantitative peer-reviewed studies written in English between 1 January 2000 and 19 November 2020. Qualitative studies and grey literature were excluded. We evaluated parental leave entitlements (duration and generosity) and parental mental health by narrative synthesis. A random effects meta-analysis will be performed for studies that can be statistically pooled. The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021227499). Preliminary findings: From the search, we identified 2249 records; after title and abstract screening, 104 full articles were assessed for eligibility with 29 studies included in the narrative synthesis. All studies included in the narrative synthesis were set in high-income countries; Australia (n=3), Canada (n=1), Chile (n=1), Denmark (n=1), pan European (n=1), France (n=1), Ireland (n=1), Japan (n=2) and USA (n=15). Twelve studies were of quasi-experimental design and 17 were observational studies. Results from the narrative synthesis and meta-analysis are to follow.

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 Presented in Session 71. Flash Session: Inequalities in Life Expectancy, Disability and Health