246219 Expanding awareness of breastfeeding as a vital health behavior through education of allied health professionals

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:30 PM

Roger A. Edwards, ScD , Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Improving knowledge of newly trained allied health professionals is an important step to improving support for breastfeeding in the community. A 15-minute online tutorial based on the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) recommendations for minimum breastfeeding knowledge for health professionals was created. The intent was to inform students of the: (1) benefits of breastfeeding; (2) American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines for breastfeeding and use of human milk; and (3) contraindications for breastfeeding (beyond medication contraindications). We pilot-tested the tutorial at three schools of pharmacy and collected preliminary information on attitudes toward their roles as sources of information on infant feeding.

Results from 142 students (mean age=22.7 years, 55% female) at three schools indicated comfort and confidence in and a positive attitude towards infant feeding interactions. Students strongly agreed/agreed with the statements “I have an important role in providing advice about meeting the nutritional needs of infants” (84%), and “I have an important role in supporting parents' infant feeding choices” (78%). Ninety percent said they were comfortable answering questions about breastfeeding vs. infant formula feeding as part of their professional responsibilities. Fewer students were confident in answering questions parents have on breastfeeding techniques/challenges (44% were extremely/very confident and 45% moderately confident), and about introducing solid foods (36% extremely/very confident and 45% moderately confident).

Since people look to health professionals for guidance about health-related behaviors, shifting allied health professionals' attitudes and knowledge are important for improving breastfeeding support. Ongoing work is focused on improving the tutorial and designing a national study.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three success factors for using online tutorials to teach health professionals about the importance of breastfeeding as a health behavior 2. Discuss ways to incorporate minimum breastfeeding knowledge recommendations into curricula using web-based channels

Keywords: Breastfeeding, Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I teach and conduct research related to breastfeeding and public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.