Are health science students' beliefs about infant nutrition evidence-based?

Joan E. Dodgson, Molly Bloomfield, Myunghan Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Globally, breastfeeding is a fundamental health promotion strategy, improving the health of mothers and infants, well beyond childhood. Healthcare professionals have the responsibility of providing breastfeeding education to families. Worldwide, most healthcare professionals do not receive sufficient evidence-based education to adequately support breastfeeding families. Objectives: (1) What experiences have university health science students had with breastfeeding? (2) What are university health science students' beliefs and attitudes toward breast and formula feeding of infants? (3) What are the perceptions of university health science students about how other important people in their lives regard breastfeeding? (4) What are the relationships between students' personal experiences with breastfeeding and their beliefs and attitudes about infant feeding choices? Design: A descriptive cross-sectional survey conceptualized using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Setting: The health science college within a major metropolitan research university in the United States. Participants: Health science undergraduate and graduate students (N. = 514), who were over the age of 18 and who were enrolled during the spring of 2011. Methods: Validated survey instruments were used to collect the data on the Theory of Planned Behavior variables. The request for participants was done by emailing all health science students. If students chose to participate, they filled out an anonymous on-line survey. Results: Most participants were not parents; however, the majority of the 95 (21.05%) students who were parents reported their child was breastfed. Significantly more positive attitudes and beliefs were found in graduate students (n. = 101; 20.10%) when compared to undergraduates (n. = 403; 89.9%). Conclusions: Health science students' beliefs and attitudes toward infant nutrition often were not evidence-based. However, all students were remarkably consistent in their responses concerning formula feeding. Incorporating adequate education about human lactation is an unmet responsibility of university health science programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education Today
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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Keywords

  • Breastfeeding
  • Education
  • Health science students
  • Nursing students
  • Nutrition students
  • Theory of Planned Behavior
  • University students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education

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