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Predicting risk of underconfidence following maternity leave
  1. Elizabeth van Boxel1,
  2. Isabel Mawson2,
  3. Sarah Dawkins3,
  4. Sandra Duncan4,
  5. Gijs van Boxel5
  1. 1 Health Education England Thames Valley, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Neonatology, Evelina Children’s Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3 Community Children’s Health Partnership, Bristol, UK
  4. 4 Paediatric Critical Care Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  5. 5 University of Oxford Magdalen College, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth van Boxel, Health Education England Thames Valley, Oxford OX4 2SU, UK; elizabeth.vanboxel{at}


Objective To determine what factors affect paediatric trainee confidence on return to work after maternity leave.

Design Information was collected anonymously via an online survey from trainees who had taken maternity leave.

Setting The survey was distributed centrally to each UK deanery.

Main outcome measures Trainee confidence was rated retrospectively using self-assessment.

Results 146 paediatric trainees from 12 out of 13 deaneries completed the survey. 96% of trainees experienced an initial lack of confidence, with 36% requiring 3 months or longer for their confidence to return. Prolonged lack of confidence was associated with longer time out of training, training stage, returning part-time, less frequent engagement with educational activities and lack of recognition by supervising consultant.

Conclusion We propose a scoring system using the above risk factors, the MoTHER score (Months out, Training stage, Hours worked on return, Educational activities, Recognition by consultant), which can be used to identify trainees who are at higher probability of experiencing reduced confidence on return to work.

  • risk factors
  • parental leave
  • time out

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  • Contributors EvB planned the study, IM, SDa and EvB distributed the survey, EvB andGvB analysed the results and proposed the scoring system, IM performed the statistical analysis, EvB wrote the manuscript with input from GvB, IM and SDa. SDu reviewed the manuscript. EvB submitted the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

  • Correction notice The paper has been amended since it was published Online First. The author order has been changed—GvB is now the last author.

  • Presented at A summary of this work has been published as a poster at the Developing Excellence in Medical Education Conference in November 2017 and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Conference in May 2019.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.