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Reproductive patterns, pregnancy outcomes and parental leave practices of women physicians in Ontario, Canada: the Dr Mom Cohort Study protocol

Cusimano MC, Baxter NN, Sutradhar R, Ray JG, Garg AX, McArthur E, Vigod S, Simpson AN. BMJ Open. 2020; 10:e041281. Epub 2020 Oct 21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-041281


Introduction — Surveys and qualitative studies suggest that women physicians may delay childbearing, be at increased risk of adverse peripartum complications when they do become pregnant, and face discrimination and lower earnings as a result of parenthood. Observational studies enrolling large, representative samples of women physicians are needed to accurately evaluate their reproductive patterns, pregnancy outcomes, parental leave practices and earnings. This protocol provides a detailed research plan for such studies.

Methods and Analysis — The Dr Mom Cohort Study encompasses a series of retrospective observational studies of women physicians in Ontario, Canada. All practising physicians in Ontario are registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). By linking a dataset of physicians from the CPSO to existing provincial administrative databases, which hold health data and physician billing records, we will be able to retrospectively assess the healthcare utilisation, work practices and pregnancy outcomes of women physicians at the population level. Specific outcomes of interest include: (1) rates and timing of pregnancy; (2) pregnancy-related care and complications; and (3) duration of parental leave and subsequent earnings, each of which will be evaluated with regression methods appropriate to the form of the outcome. We estimate that, at minimum, 5000 women physicians will be eligible for inclusion.

Ethics and Dissemination — This protocol has been approved by the Research Ethics Board at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (#18–248). We will disseminate findings through several peer-reviewed publications, presentations at national and international meetings, and engagement of physicians, residency programmes, department heads and medical societies.

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