Improving the breastfeeding knowledge and skills of GP registrars

Wendy Brodribb (2009). Improving the breastfeeding knowledge and skills of GP registrars PhD Thesis, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland.

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Author Wendy Brodribb
Thesis Title Improving the breastfeeding knowledge and skills of GP registrars
School, Centre or Institute School of Medicine
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Hegney, Desley G.
Jackson, Claire L.
Fallon, Tony
Total pages 429
Total black and white pages 429
Subjects 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Abstract Background The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate complementary food until at least 12 months. While most Australian women initiate breastfeeding, many wean earlier than recommended due to breastfeeding difficulties. As most women consult their GP frequently in the first six months postpartum, GPs are in an ideal position to provide encouragement, evidence-based information and advice that breastfeeding women need. In addition, women are more likely to initiate and continue to breastfeed if their doctor supports and encourages them to do so. The limited Australian data available question whether GPs have the skills to be able to effectively assist breastfeeding women, although no research has specifically addressed the breastfeeding knowledge or attitudes of Australian GPs. Additionally, there are no data detailing the breastfeeding training available to medical students, GP registrars or GPs. Aim This study aimed to identify the breastfeeding educational needs of Australian GP registrars and to develop a relevant and applicable breastfeeding educational resource within the context of these identified needs. Research design Triangulation methodology, using more than one data source and qualitative and quantitative data-collection methods, was chosen for this study to give a richer, more inclusive and wider reaching understanding of the issues involved than could be obtained by using one method alone. Therefore, to meet the aims of the study, a three phase mixed-method project with triangulation of data was designed. Phase 1 had three distinct data-collection arms: a quantitative survey of medical school curricula; focus groups with medical students from two Queensland medical schools; and interviews with eight GP registrars. Data from Phase 1 provided information about breastfeeding attitudes, knowledge needs and learning opportunities, and informed the development of a questionnaire sent to final-year GP registrars Australia-wide (Phase 2). The aim of this phase was to ascertain the GP registrars’ breastfeeding attitudes and knowledge gaps. Phase 3 used the outcomes of Phases 1 and 2 to design an educational resource that would meet the needs of GP registrars. Results Breastfeeding was included in the curricula of most of the Australian medical schools surveyed (n = 10). Many medical schools relied on contact between the student and patients to provide clinical experience and practical knowledge. Medical students and GP registrars reported marked variability in breastfeeding learning opportunities. Although both groups had positive breastfeeding attitudes, participants had differing opinions regarding doctors’ involvement in infant feeding decisions and the type of support and information offered to women. Overall, the breastfeeding attitudes of the 161 GP registrars who returned the questionnaire were positive (mean 3.99, 1 = least positive, 5 = most positive). However, while the mean breastfeeding knowledge score was 3.40, (1 = minimum score, 5 = maximum score) 40 percent of the knowledge items were incorrectly answered by more than half the cohort. Approximately 40 percent of the registrars were confident and thought they were effective assisting breastfeeding women. Nevertheless, only 23 percent thought they had had sufficient breastfeeding training. Registrars who thought their previous training was inadequate had lower knowledge scores, were less confident and perceived that they were less effective than the remainder of the cohort. A new finding from this study was that Australian-born registrars had more positive breastfeeding attitudes and higher knowledge scores than their overseas-born counterparts. In addition, while parents with more than 26 weeks’ personal breastfeeding experience (self or partner) had more positive breastfeeding attitudes and higher breastfeeding knowledge, confidence and perceived effectiveness scores, parents with less experience had less positive attitudes and poorer knowledge than non-parent participants. Similar to previous studies, gender had no effect on breastfeeding knowledge or attitudes. Using adult learning principles, a five-session, case-based breastfeeding educational resource addressing the knowledge deficits identified in the previous phases of the study was developed. Evaluation activities before and after each session, as well as exercises designed for reflection and critical thinking, were an integral part of the resource. Conclusion This study found that the breastfeeding training of Australian medical students and GP registrars was inadequate and, regardless of their positive breastfeeding attitudes, resulted in registrars being ill-prepared to assist breastfeeding women. Based on the training needs identified in the study and in the literature, an educational resource was developed that presented information within real-life case-based scenarios. Additional background information provided logic and rationale for diagnosis, management and treatment. While the implementation of the resource is outside the scope of this thesis (but will be the focus of post-doctoral work), it is believed that the resource has the potential to provide GP registrars with training opportunities to improve their breastfeeding knowledge and skills, thus better meeting the needs of breastfeeding women.
Keyword breastfeeding
breastfeeding attitudes
breastfeeding knowledge
GP registrars
general practice
family physician
general practitioner
Additional Notes Landscape pages 29, 59, 70, 188, 191, 192, 196, 197, 204, 205, 249-251, 326-337, 410

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Created: Tue, 12 May 2009, 08:07:43 EST by Dr Wendy Brodribb on behalf of Library - Information Access Service