Who cares for the children? Pediatricians and parental leave

Craig F. Garfield*, Kate E. Pickett, Paul J. Chung, John Lantos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Context. - Evidence suggests that parental leave (PL) benefits child health and infant-parent attachment, yet little is known about how pediatricians view and discuss PL with parents. Objective. - To determine pediatricians' attitudes, practices, and their own use of PL, and how these may vary by gender. Design. - Random mail surveys to 750 male and 750 female pediatricians focusing on attitudes about PL and the discussion of PL. Respondents with children were asked about their own PL use. After stratifying by gender, questions were compared using the chi-square, linear trend, and t test. Logistic regression was used to predict the likelihood of discussing PL. Results. - Forty-four percent of men and 92% of women took time off after the arrival of a new child - a median of 14 days and 67 days, respectively. The majority (55%) believe it is important to discuss PL; however, 8% of men and 24% of women do so (P < .01). Men who took PL were 3.6 times more likely to discuss PL (P = .04) than men who did not. For women, each month increase in length of leave was associated with 2.2 times greater likelihood of discussing PL (P < .01). Women in smaller practices were 2.1 times more likely to discuss PL (P = .01) than women in larger practices. Conclusion. - Many pediatricians take PL and believe it is an important topic for discussion. Few pediatricians, however, incorporate discussion into their practices. In an era when most children grow up in households where both parents work outside the home, pediatricians should consider discussing with parents this important element of child health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-233
Number of pages6
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Child care
  • Parental behavior
  • Parental leave
  • Physician
  • Women
  • Work-family balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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