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Title:An Educational Approach to Improve Breastfeeding Rates Among Low-Income Women and to Promote Endorsement of Lactation Among Future Physicians
Author(s):Matheny, Rebecca Jean
Department / Program:Food Science
Discipline:Food Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Health Sciences, Nutrition
Abstract:Recently reported breastfeeding rates, particularly among the least educated, low-income mothers, are measurably less than the 1990 projected rates set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Studies were undertaken to determine: (1) instruction to improve breastfeeding rates among low-income, primigravide women and (2) instruction to increase endorsement of lactation among future physicians. Time constraints limit nutrition education offered in government programs and in medical curricula. A methodology directive in determining instructional content and amenable to quantitative evaluation was therefore used. This approach was based upon the assumption that beliefs, attitude, social pressure, and intention are the prime determinants of behavior. Our data indicated that maternal attitudes during pregnancy toward breast and formula feeding were more predictive of feeding intention than were social pressures. Five maternal beliefs about breast and formula feeding were identified as topics for instruction to promote lactation. A randomized, experimental design used pre- and post-test measurements of the prime determinants of behavior and breastfeeding rates to ascertain the impacts of prenatal instruction. Education strengthened key maternal convictions about breastfeeding among experimental mothers. Approximately 50% of these mothers demonstrated positive shifts in intention and attitude toward breastfeeding. Breastfeeding incidence at six weeks was significantly improved by intervention. Results support the hypothesis that effective education to promote breastfeeding must be based upon belief systems of mothers. Mothers reported minimal influence of physicians on feeding plans, stressing the need to integrate education on lactation into training of health care providers. Data showed that intentions of medical students to recommend breast or formula feeding were strongly influenced by attitude. Attitudes were shaped by beliefs about feeding methods and beliefs about the approval of each method by individuals held in professional esteem. In order for medical education on lactation to be effective, it must be reinforced by medical leadership. Six beliefs about breast and formula feeding were identified as candidates for instruction in medical curricula. Our findings strongly support this approach as an alternative to current educational strategies, both in patient and medical education.
Issue Date:1987
Description:123 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721707
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1987

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