Attitudes to infant feeding decision-making - A mixed-methods study of Australian medical students and GP registrars
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Breastfeeding is an important public health issue. While medical practitioners can have a significant impact on breastfeeding initiation and duration, there are few studies investigating their views regarding women's infant feeding decisions. This mixed-methods study employed qualitative (focus groups and interviews) and quantitative (questionnaire) data collection techniques to investigate the attitudes and views of Australian medical students and GP registrars about infant feeding decision-making. Three approaches to infant feeding decisions were evident: 'the moral choice' (women were expected to breastfeed); 'the free choice' (doctors should not influence a woman's decision); and 'the equal choice' (the outcome of the decision was unimportant). Participants were uncertain about differences between artificial-feeding and breastfeeding outcomes, and there was some concern that advising a mother to breastfeed may lead to maternal feelings of guilt and failure. These findings, the first in an Australian setting, provide a foundation on which to base further educational interventions for medical practitioners.
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