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Health Equity

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Health services accessibility, Equality -- Health aspects, Parental leave, Health services administration -- Planning


Purpose: Paid parental leave (PPL) policies offer immense opportunity to enhance health equity by providing financial stability to workers and promoting the health of families in the United States. Working in partnership with a local county government, which recently adopted a paid leave policy, we engaged in a qualitative substudy to enhance our understanding of how workers perceived and experienced the policy across levels of the socioecological framework. Methods: Working in partnership with Multnomah County, a large public-sector employer in Portland, OR that recently adopted a PPL policy, we collected qualitative data through focus groups with employees. Data were transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically. Results: We conducted seven focus groups with county employees (N = 35) in the fall of 2017. Three major themes emerged from the focus group data: intersectional inequities, disparities by department, and uneven benefits. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the inequities of experience with the PPL policy across employees at individual, organization, and environmental levels. These findings offer insight and guidance for entities considering the adoption and implementation of such policies to consider concrete steps to enhance equity of access and experience.


ª Dawn M. Richardson et al. 2019 Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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