Objective: To report on doctors' family formation. Design Cohort studies using structured questionnaires. Setting UK. Participants Doctors who qualified in 1988, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002 were followed up.
Main outcome measures: Living with spouse or partner; and doctors' age when first child was born.
Results: The response to surveys including questions about domestic circumstances was 89.8% (20,717/23,077 doctors). The main outcomes - living with spouse or partner, and parenthood - varied according to age at qualification. Using the modal ages of 23-24 years at qualification, by the age of 24-25 (i.e. in their first year of medical work) a much smaller percentage of doctors than the general population was living with spouse or partner. By the age of 33, 75% of both women and men doctors were living with spouse or partner, compared with 68% of women and 61% of men aged 33 in the general population. By the age of 24-25, 2% of women doctors and 41% of women in the general population had a child; but women doctors caught up with the general population, in this respect, in their 30s. The specialty with the highest percentage of women doctors who, aged 35, had children was general practice (74%); the lowest was surgery (41%).
Conclusions: Doctors are more likely than other people to live with a spouse or partner, and to have children, albeit typically at later ages. Differences between specialties in rates of motherhood may indicate sacrifice by some women of family in favour of career.