You are invited to participate in the SMS4dads Adaptability research project which is being conducted by Associate Professor Richard Fletcher, Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle.

This study is designed to test phone based support systems that send information to fathers during their transition to parenthood. The present study will test a system enabling modest adaption of the program to individual participant needs. The study will also continue testing an associated, phone based, system which monitors a father’s stress and links those who need support to appropriate services.

Messages will often include links to further information and are intended to provide information, motivation and practical advice on self-care, child development, parenting, family support, and family relationships.

Why is the research being done?

This research is being conducted to develop an understanding of the feasibility and acceptability of providing new and expectant fathers with an adaptable program of text messages that address participants expected needs in regards to their relationships, physical and mental health.

Who can participate in the research?

You can participate in this research if you are over 18 years of age and your partner is more than 16 weeks pregnant or if your baby is no more than 12 weeks of age. Only fathers who have a smartphone, capable of receiving messages and accessing linked information, can participate in the study.

What would you be asked to do?

If you agree to participate, you will be asked to:
     • Provide some information about your child and you, such as date of birth, expected date of birth, phone number and email address.
     • Complete a brief survey about your current state of stress and experience of becoming or being a father.
     • You would then be allocated to a standard set of message schedules along with messages specifically focused on health related behaviours that you have identified in your enrolment information.
     • Receive regular text messages, 2 to 5 per week, over a period ranging from 12 to 52 weeks.
     • Participate in online surveys during and at the end of the study.
     • Pass some information about the study onto your parenting partner. You can participate in the study without taking up this option.

What choice do you have?

Participation in this research is entirely your choice. Only those people who give their informed consent will be included in the project. Whether or not you decide to participate, your decision will not disadvantage you or the care that you, your partner or your baby will receive.

Participants can withdraw from the project at any time by texting “Stop” to SMS4dads. Participants can withdraw without giving reason and if requested all the information provided by the participant for this research will be destroyed. However, participants who withdraw will receive a final text asking why they withdrew. If withdrawing participants respond to this text the information provided will be stored in de-identified files, not linked to them in any way.

How much time would it take?

Questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study usually take about 10 minutes to complete. Another questionnaire during the study will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. Reading and responding to text messages should take no more than a minute or two on each occasion.

What are the risks and benefits of participating?

We hope that participants will find benefit from the information that they receive through the text messages. However, there is potential that the information in text messages or questionnaires could raise discussion about distressing issues, encourage distressing thoughts, or contribute to existing emotional or psychological issues. If you do become distressed through participation in this study you are encouraged to seek support through the agency that provided you with this information letter or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the NSW Mental health line on 1800 011 511 from anywhere in Australia.

How will your privacy be protected?

Any information collected by researchers which might identify you will be stored securely and only accessed by the researchers unless you consent otherwise, except as required by law. Data will be retained for at least 5 years at the University of Newcastle. The University of Newcastle will comply with the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 and its Australian Privacy Principles.

How will the information collected be used?

The study outcomes may be used to develop a better understanding of how to support fathers during the time before and after the arrival of a new baby. Study outcomes may also be published in journal articles or presented at conferences. Individual participants will not be identified in any reports arising from the project. A summary of the research results will be available to you upon request. You can either request this information on the attached survey or request this information by mailing or emailing Associate Professor Richard Fletcher.

What do you need to do to participate?

     • You can complete the surveys and consent forms online at
     • If you are having difficulty enrolling then you can send a text message to 0437281215 indicating your interest in the study and the SMS4dads team will call you and talk you through the process.

Further information

If you would like further information please contact Richard Fletcher on (02) 4921 6401.

Thank you for considering this invitation.

Richard Fletcher, Chief Investigator

Complaints about this research

This project has been approved by University of Newcastle’s Human Research Ethics Committee, Reference No. H-2016-0055. Should you have concerns about your rights as a participant in this research, or you have a complaint about the manner in which the research is conducted, it may be given to the researcher, or, if an independent person is preferred, to the University of Newcastle’s Human Research Ethics Committee, Callaghan, NSW, 2308, Australia, telephone (02) 49217894, or email

Research Team Members

Associate Professor Richard Fletcher Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Professor John Attia Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Dr Geoffrey Skinner Faculty of Engineering University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Professor Brian Kelly Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Professor Louise Newman Director Centre for Women’s Mental Health Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC, Australia
Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Professor Jan Nicholson Judith Lumley Centre La Trobe University Melbourne VIC Australia
Distinguished Professor Alan Hayes Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Associate Professor Adrian Dunlop Conjoint Associate Professor, Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Dr Chris May Faculty of Health and Medicine University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Click HERE to continue on to the Survey.