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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development and First Phase Evaluation of a Maternity Leave Educational Tool for Pregnant, Working Women in California

  • Author(s): Kurtovich, Elaine
  • Guendelman, Sylvia
  • Neuhauser, Linda
  • Edelman, Dana
  • Georges, Maura
  • Mason-Marti, Peyton
  • et al.

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Background: Despite the provision of maternity leave offered to mothers, many American women fail to take leave.

Methods: We developed an evidence-based maternity leave educational tool for working women in California using participatory design. We tested its short-term efficacy with a randomized controlled trial of pregnant English-speakers (n=155).

Results: Among intervention participants exposed to the tool, 65% reported that they learned something new; 38% were motivated to seek more information; and 49% said it helped them plan their maternity leave. Among participants who delivered at ≥ 37 weeks gestation and said the tool helped them plan their leave, 89% took more than one week of prenatal leave, a significantly higher proportion than among controls who did not receive the tool (64%, p=0.049). Other findings favored trial participants, but were not statistically significant in this small sample. More intervention participants took some prenatal leave (80%) vs. controls (74%, p=0.44). Among participants who had returned to work when surveyed (n=50), mean postnatal leave uptake was on average 1 week longer for intervention participants vs. controls (13.3 vs. 12.2 weeks, p=0.54).

Conclusions: The first-phase evaluation of this tool shows that it successfully informed women about maternity leave options, clarified complex regulations, encouraged women to seek further information and helped plan maternity leave. Compared to controls, trial participants who used the tool to plan their leave were far more likely to take prenatal leave close to term. Future evaluation of the tool when mediated by a health provider or employer is warranted.

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