Knowledge and attitudes of paediatric nurses related to breastfeeding

McLaughlin, Marie Anne (2010) Knowledge and attitudes of paediatric nurses related to breastfeeding. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Introduction: Almost 90% of Australian mothers are exclusively breastfeeding when they discharge from maternity hospitals but by six months of age breastfeeding infants have reduced to 32% nationally and 19% in Queensland, far below the national target of 80%. Many factors influence the choice to breastfeed, including health care provision, therefore the knowledge and attitudes of paediatric nurses have the potential to affect breastfeeding duration.

Aims: To assess current breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes of paediatric nurses in metropolitan and regional Queensland settings.

Method: The study used a cross-sectional survey design. The tool was developed from several documented health professional questionnaires about breastfeeding, with permission from authors. Survey items relating breastfeeding physiology, factors relating to breastfeeding success, and local, national and international policies were also included. Ethics approval was granted from the appropriate Ethics Committees to conduct the survey through tertiary metropolitan and regional hospital settings.

Results: A total of 241 surveys were returned, achieving a response rate of 53%. Nurses acknowledged breastmilk as the best source of nutrition for infants (99%, n=238) and that mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed (92%, n=221). However, many respondents considered infant formula a nutritional equivalent (44%, n=105) and (47%, n=113) were unaware that supplemental formulas interfered with successful breastfeeding. Most nurses recognised that stress (e.g. infant hospitalisation) impacts on the success of breastfeeding (90%, n=216). Knowledge of breastfeeding anatomy and physiology was poor and a substantial number of nurses did not identify correct attachment in response to two diagrammatic representations (76%, n=183 and 45%, n=109). Survey results demonstrated deficiencies in knowledge that would impact on support provided to breastfeeding mothers. Knowledge deficits were also identified relating to local, national and international policies and protocols concerning breastfeeding and breastmilk substitutes.

Conclusion: Breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes were exceptional in areas related to general breastfeeding knowledge. However, in areas directly related to nursing practice, considerable deficits in paediatric nurses' knowledge and attitudes were identified. Lack of appropriate skills, knowledge and varying attitudes amongst paediatric nurses has the potential to negatively impact on the education, advice and support provided to breastfeeding mothers and their families whilst their infant is in hospital. These study findings will guide future research and strategies to improve knowledge and policy statements to assist paediatric nurses in fulfilling their role.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 46121
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Fraser, Jennifer, Young, Jeanine, & Keogh, Samantha
Keywords: breastfeeding, breastmilk, paediatric nurse, knowledge, attitudes
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Sep 2011 01:53
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2016 06:25

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