Family physicians in the maternity care workforce: factors influencing declining trends

Matern Child Health J. 2013 Nov;17(9):1576-81. doi: 10.1007/s10995-012-1159-8.


Family physicians provide access to maternity care for a disproportionate share of rural and urban underserved communities. This paper aims to determine trends in maternity care provision by family physicians and the characteristics of family physicians that provide maternity care. We used American Board of Family Medicine survey data collected from every family physician during application for the Maintenance of Certification Examination to determine the percentage of family physicians that provided maternity care from 2000 to 2010. Using a cross-sectional study design, logistic regression analysis was performed to examine association between maternity care provision and various physician demographic and practice characteristics. Maternity care provision by family physicians declined from 23.3 % in 2000 to 9.7 % in 2010 (p < 0.0001). Family physicians who were female, younger and US medical graduates were more likely to practice maternity care. Practicing in a rural setting (OR = 2.2; 95 % CL 2.1-2.4), an educational setting (OR = 6.4; 95 % CL 5.7-7.1) and in either the Midwest (OR = 2.6; 95 % CL 2.3-2.9) or West (OR = 2.3; 95 % CL 2.1-2.6) were the strongest predictors of higher likelihood of providing maternity care. While family physicians continue to play an important role in providing maternity care in many parts of the United States, the steep decline in the percentage of family physicians providing maternity care is concerning. Formal collaborations with midwives and obstetrician-gynecologists, malpractice reform, payment changes and graduate medical education innovations are potential avenues to explore to ensure access to maternity care.

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Maternal Health Services / trends*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • United States
  • Workforce