OBJECTIVE. The goal was to determine the reasons given for nonparticipation in maintenance of certification by general pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists whose board certification had expired.

METHODS. All United States-based pediatricians whose board certification had expired and who had not recertified as a generalist or subspecialist in 2004 or 2005 were surveyed. The total sample included 1001 pediatric generalists and 1237 subspecialists. We conducted a mail survey study, with a total of 3 mailings to nonrespondents. Analyses initially were conducted separately for generalists with expired certificates, subspecialists with active subspecialty but expired general pediatrics certificates, and subspecialists with expired subspecialty certificates (regardless of their general pediatrics certification status).

RESULTS. The overall response rates were 68% for generalists and 76% for subspecialists. Of pediatricians who had allowed their certificates to expire, the majority still intended to recertify (65% of the generalists and 86% of the subspecialists, in their primary subspecialty). The most common reasons cited by the 35% of generalists with expired certificates who were not planning to participate in maintenance of certification were the expense, the time required to complete maintenance of certification, and the perceived lack of relevance to their current practice. The 14% of subspecialists who were not planning to recertify in their primary subspecialty most commonly cited the expense, a change in career path making recertification unnecessary, and the time required.

CONCLUSIONS. Although the physicians in this study had allowed their certificates to expire, they still overwhelmingly believed that physicians who provide direct patient care should maintain their certification. There was general consensus among our respondents regarding the professional value to patients and peers of participation in the maintenance of certification program.

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