Obstetric care among family physicians in Pennsylvania. Trends, association with residency training, and policy implications

J Fam Pract. 1990 Sep;31(3):281-6.


A study was designed to investigate the status of obstetric practice by Pennsylvania family physicians and its relationship to family practice residency training. A 50% probability sample of all family and general physicians and of all graduates of Pennsylvania family practice residency programs was surveyed by mail. Ten percent of Pennsylvania family physicians and general practitioners reported currently practicing obstetrics, 44% of whom said they planned to stop within 3 years. Telephone survey information from nonresponders suggests that even fewer (5%) of the state's family physicians may actually be practicing obstetrics. Family practice residency training, postresidency obstetric training, and small community size were the best predictors of current obstetric practice. Family physicians in the smallest communities, however, were also those most likely to be planning to stop, and graduates of residency programs were increasingly choosing not to practice obstetrics. Cost of liability insurance and fear of lawsuits were primary reasons cited for stopping obstetrics. Family physicians have been major providers of obstetric care in the nation's rural areas. Now, increasingly firm evidence that fewer family physicians are practicing obstetrics signals increasing shortages in obstetric care for women in rural communities. Changes in the practice climate and obstetric training programs for family physicians seem essential to help reverse these trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Mobility
  • Family Practice / education
  • Family Practice / trends
  • Female
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetrics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Obstetrics* / trends
  • Pennsylvania
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce