A series of studies has demonstrated that sick children fare better when their parents are present.
To examine working conditions that determine whether parents can spend time with and become involved in the care of their children when they are sick.
Survey with a multivariate analysis of factors influencing parental care of sick children.
Mixed-income urban working parents aged 26 to 29 years participating in the Baltimore Parenthood Study.
Only 42% of working parents in our sample cared for their young children when they became sick. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict which parents stayed at home when their children were sick. Those parents who had either paid sick or vacation leave were 5.2 times as likely to care for their children themselves when they were sick. Of parents with less than a high school education, 17% received paid leave, compared with 57% of parents with a general equivalency diploma, 76% of parents with a high school diploma, and 92% of parents with more than a high school education (P<.001).
The finding that many parents were unable to care for their sick children themselves is important for pediatric care. While low-income children are more likely to face marked health problems and to be in need of parental care, they are more likely to live in households in which parents lack paid leave and cannot afford to take unpaid leave.