Comparing factors associated with overall satisfaction for different forms of remote breastfeeding support in the UK

Thomson, Gill orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182, Balaam, Marie-Clare orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4511-7352 and Tishkovskaya, Svetlana orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3087-6380 (2024) Comparing factors associated with overall satisfaction for different forms of remote breastfeeding support in the UK. International Breastfeeding Journal, 19 (1).

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Background: Remote forms of breastfeeding support, such as helplines and social media, offer a flexible and convenient form of support to offer help at critical points, e.g., when the risk of breastfeeding cessation is high. Currently, there is little known about who accesses different forms of remote breastfeeding support and what factors impact overall satisfaction. As part of an evaluation of the UK National Breastfeeding Helpline (NBH) (which offers breastfeeding support via a helpline and online media), we aimed to (a) understand who accesses different forms of NBH support, and (b) identify key factors associated with overall satisfaction for helpline and online media support. Methods: All service users who contacted the NBH between November 2021 and March 2022 were invited to participate in the evaluation via an online survey. Survey questions explored the type and timing of support, reasons for the contact, attitudes towards the help and support received, impact of the support on breastfeeding experiences and demographic factors. Chi-squared and Mann–Whitney tests explored variations in who accessed the helpline or online media. Multiple linear regression models were fitted to explore the factors related to the service users’ ‘overall satisfaction’. The quantitive data were combined with qualitative comments into descriptive themes. Results: Overall, online media users were significantly more likely to be younger, White, multiparous, less educated and have English as a first language compared to those who contact the helpline. Similar factors that significantly influenced overall satisfaction for both support models were the service being easy to access, receiving helpful information that met expectations, resolving breastfeeding issues, and feeling reassured and more confident. Significant factors for the helpline were callers feeling understood and more knowledgeable about breastfeeding following the call, being able to put into practice the information provided, feeling encouraged to continue breastfeeding, feeling that the volunteer gave the support that was needed, and seeking out additional support. Conclusions: Online and helpline forms of breastfeeding support suit different demographics and call purposes. While optimal breastfeeding support needs to be accessible, flexible and instrumental, helpline users need real-time relational support to deal with more complex challenges.

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