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Father Absence and Anxiety Symptoms in Women: Findings from Masvingo Urban, Zimbabwe
This quantitative study sought to explore the influence of father absence on anxiety symptoms among women who grew up in father absent homes. This was achieved by comparing the anxious feelings, thoughts and physical symptoms of anxiety of women who grew up in father absent households against those of women who grew up with a resident father. The ex post facto design was employed and a one stage cluster sampling strategy was used to select 392 women who participated in this study. Of the 392 participants, 168 were women who had grown up in father absent homes and the remaining 224 had grown up with a resident father. A standardised instrument, the Burns Anxiety Inventory, was used to collect data. This study revealed that father absence influences manifestations of anxiety among women who grew up without fathers. A significant difference was found in the general anxiety levels between women who grew up in father absent households and those who grew up with their fathers (u = 15075.5, p<0.1) with women who emerged from father absent homes expressing more anxiety symptoms than women who grew up with a resident father. Furthermore, father absent women had significantly higher scores on the anxiety inventory on anxious thoughts and physical symptoms of anxiety than women who grew up with their fathers. However, no significant differences were noted between the two groups of women in terms of how they expressed nervousness or worry. This study recommends that voluntary organisations that promote fatherhood programs should be set up to raise awareness on the importance of fathering. Moreover, future research should explore the role of father involvement in children’s lives.