Callers’ attitudes and experiences of UK breastfeeding helpline support

Thomson, Gillian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182 and Crossland, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1063-8123 (2013) Callers’ attitudes and experiences of UK breastfeeding helpline support. International Breastfeeding Journal, 8 (1). p. 3. ISSN 1746-4358

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Background: Breastfeeding peer support, is considered to be a key intervention for increasing breastfeeding duration rates. Whilst a number of national organisations provide telephone based breastfeeding peer support, to date there have been no published evaluations into callers’ experiences and attitudes of this support. In this study we report on the descriptive and qualitative insights provided by 908 callers as part of an evaluation of UK-based breastfeeding helpline(s).

Methods: A structured telephone interview, incorporating Likert scale responses and open-ended questions was undertaken with 908 callers over May to August, 2011 to explore callers’ experiences of the help and support received via the breastfeeding helpline(s).

Results: Overall satisfaction with the helpline was high, with the vast majority of callers’ recalling positive experiences of the help and support received. Thematic analysis was undertaken on all qualitative and descriptive data recorded during the evaluation, contextualised within the main areas addressed within the interview schedule in terms of ‘contact with the helplines’; ‘experiences of the helpline service’, ‘perceived effectiveness of support provision’ and ‘impact on caller wellbeing’.

Conclusion: Callers valued the opportunity for accessible, targeted, non-judgmental and convenient support. Whilst the telephone support did not necessarily influence women’s breastfeeding decisions, the support they received left them feeling reassured, confident and more determined to continue breastfeeding. We recommend extending the helpline service to ensure support can be accessed when needed, and ongoing training and support for volunteers. Further advertising and promotion of the service within wider demographic groups is warranted.

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