259213 Social norms and infant feeding myths: Implications for clinical and community interventions

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Alice Nelson , Public Healtlh Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY
Sherita Bullock , Community Relations, Perinatal Network of Monroe County, Rochester, NY
Holly Widanka, MS , Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Patricia Brantingham, MA , Perinatal Network of Monroe County, Rochester, NY
Ann M. Dozier, RN, PhD , Community and Preventive Medicine/Social and Behavioral Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Breastfeeding rates among low-income US women remain low despite numerous initiatives. Understanding the role of myths about infant feeding in perpetuating community norms may provide further insight into how to influence community attitudes about healthy infant feeding practices. We surveyed a Community Council (low-income, minority, urban residents), a partner in a community based participatory research study, about whether they heard and believed myths regarding infant feeding. Following each of two surveys (2010 n=14; 2011 n=19), the Council participated in a qualitative process evaluation. Heavily debated topics included if: adding cereal to a bottle helps a baby sleep through the night (yes=73.7%); breastfeeding is painful (yes=66.7%); smoking mothers may breastfeed (yes=54.5%). Discussions of results provided opportunities for Council members to reexamine their views and highlighted how myths influence infant feeding decision making. Some members' beliefs shifted over time, while others remained unaffected. Members unable to identify why they supported a belief tended to alter their view to be in accordance with accurate or more up-to-date information. However this factual information, even when presented by a professional, rarely convinced a member to change their inaccurate view when an identified trusted family “expert” endorsed a belief. Overall, members would not speculate about how others make decisions, reinforcing the principle that the target population must be directly represented in community based participatory research teams. Relevant public health and clinical implications regarding breastfeeding include how to: identify what people actually believe; effectively address erroneous information; counter the influence of powerful advisors.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Compare community infant feeding beliefs and discuss their implications.

Keywords: Breast Feeding, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MCH evaluator and researcher with 10 years of experience; I am the PI of the study described in this abstract.
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.