Men and Parenting Pathways (MAPP) is a program of research that investigates men’s mental health and wellbeing and how it affects and is affected by family life.

This includes how men prepare for and enter fatherhood; as well as how men fare when they elect to not have children or when they are unable to become fathers. MAPP includes 5 annual waves of data collection (2015-2021), and 3 COVID specific surveys (2020-2021).


Jacqui Macdonald
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Lauren Francis
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Study focus

The Men and Parenting Pathways (MAPP) Study (N = 608) is a prospective investigation of men’s mental health and well-being across the normative age for transitioning to fatherhood. The study captures key measures of mental health, personality, coping, and psychosocial functioning including indicators of family, romantic and peer relationships, workplace stress, roles and identity, and behaviours including alcohol and other substance use. Measures are repeated across the five waves to track change over time and across major life transitions, particularly fatherhood. In 2020 a subsample (n = 286) was tracked across three supplementary surveys to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on men’s lives.

Sampling frame

The target population was Australian resident, English-speaking men, with or without children, aged 28–32 years at the time of recruitment. This age range represents the 5 years preceding the median age in Australia in 2015 for becoming a first-time father (33 years).

Time period

2015 – Ongoing (the main waves of data collection (Waves 1-5) and COVID-19 specific surveys (1-3) are complete, however participants have provided consent to further research and as such MAPP is still ongoing).

Original sample size

664 eligible participants completed Wave 1, of whom 608 consented to follow-up contact and were therefore eligible for inclusion in the ongoing sample (i.e., Waves 2-5).









Ethics approvals or requirements

Ethics approval has been provided by the Faulty of Health HEAG at Deakin University (HEAG-H 192_2014, Project Title: Male psychological wellbeing during the peak age for first childbirth – The Men & Parenting Pathways (MAPP) Study).


Wave Year / Period Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1 2015-2017 Mean=30.4, Range=28-32 years old 664
2 2016-2018 Mean=31.0, Range=29-33 years old 608
3 2017-2019 Mean=32.0, Range=30-34 years old 608
4 2018-2020 Mean=33.2, Range=31-35 years old 608
5 2019-2021 Mean=34.1, Range=32-36 years old 608

Key references

Macdonald, J.A., Francis, L.M., Skouteris, H., Youssef, G.J., Graeme L.G., Williams, J., Fletcher,R.J., Knight, T., Milgrom, J., Di Manno, L., Olsson, C.A., Greenwood, C.J. (2021). Cohort profile: the Men and Parenting Pathways (MAPP) Study: a longitudinal Australian cohort study of men’s mental health and well-being at the normative age for first-time fatherhood. BMJ Open, 11, e047909.

Livingston, J. D., Youssef, G. J., Francis, L. M., Greenwood, C. J., Olsson, C. A., & Macdonald, J. A. (2022). Hidden in Plain Sight? Men’s Coping Patterns and Psychological Distress Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2320.

Mansour, K. A., Greenwood, C. J., Biden, E. J., Francis, L. M., Olsson, C. A., & Macdonald, J. A. (2021). Pre-pandemic predictors of loneliness in adult men during COVID-19. Frontiers in Psychiatry,

Macdonald J.A., Graeme L.G., Wynter K., Cooke D., Hutchinson D., Kendall G., StGeorge J., Dowse E., Francis L.M., McBride N., Fairweather A.K., Di Manno L., Olsson C.A., Allsop S., Leach L., & Youssef G.J. (2021). How are you sleeping? Starting the conversation with fathers about their mental health in the early parenting years. Journal of Affective Disorders, 281, 727-737.

Macdonald, J.A., Greenwood, C.J., Francis, L.M., Harrison, T.R., Graeme, L.G., Youssef, G.J., Di Manno, L., Skouteris, H., Fletcher, R., Knight, T., Williams, J., Milgrom, J. and Olsson, C.A (2020) Profiles of Depressive Symptoms and Anger in Men: Associations With Postpartum Family Functioning. Front. Psychiatry 11:578114.

Smith, I., Knight, T., Fletcher, R., & Macdonald, J. A. (2019). When men choose to be childless: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Kings, C.A., Knight, T., Ryan, D., & Macdonald, J.A. (2017). The “Sensory Deprivation Tank”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Men’s Expectations of First-Time Fatherhood. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 18(2), 112-122.

Primary institution

Collaborating institutions

Major funding sources


Cohort Representative

Associate Professor Jacqui Macdonald

+61 3 9244 3820


School of Psychology,
Deakin University,
221 Burwood Highway,
Burwood VIC 3125

Study website