Objective: This study assesses the attitudes of obstetricians about family physicians delivering babies.
Methods: We performed a two-stage mail survey of physicians who self-reported their specialty as obstetrics- gynecology in the 2001 South Carolina Directory of Licensed Physicians. After excluding physicians who retired or moved, a response rate of 65% was obtained.
Results: Fewer than half of the respondents (45%) supported family physicians providing pregnancy care. Obstetricians in favor of family physicians providing pregnancy care were more likely to work near a family physician who delivered babies, less likely to have been sued in the last 5 years, and more likely to be over age 60. Practice location (rural versus urban) did not predict support for family physicians participating in pregnancy care. Those obstetricians who supported family physicians participating in pregnancy care were comfortable with family physicians managing a wide range of common complications.
Conclusions: Since fewer than half of obstetricians believe that family physicians should offer pregnancy care, family physicians may experience difficulty finding appropriate backup. Because older obstetricians were most likely to support family physicians, the retirement of these individuals from practice may create a problem for family physicians seeking obstetrical backup.