Introduction Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for babies and mothers. Nevertheless, only 14% of babies in the United States are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, significantly less than the Healthy People 2010 goal of 50%. Prior studies have demonstrated that physicians can have a positive impact on breastfeeding initiation but that they lack necessary knowledge and skills. This deficiency may result from inadequate physician training. We sought to evaluate the efficacy of house officer training to improve breastfeeding knowledge and skills.
Methods We developed a 3-hour breastfeeding curriculum for pediatrics, family practice, and ob/gyn residents in our teaching hospital in San Francisco. The tutorial covers the benefits of breastfeeding and includes instruction on position and latch and case studies for resident teaching conferences. We surveyed residents' breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes prior to implementation of the curriculum and will perform a post-curriculum survey to assess its impact.
Results To date, 34 pediatrics residents have completed pretest surveys. Of surveyed residents, 85% stated that they feel well informed about breastfeeding and that they feel comfortable counseling women about the benefits of breastfeeding. However, many respondents did not feel confident providing direct breastfeeding support; only 41% feel comfortable assessing a latch and only 34% in providing hands-on breastfeeding assistance. Most residents (91%) stated that they would like to spend more time learning about breastfeeding, indicating a preference for a median of 6.5 hours of breastfeeding training during residency. Teaching by a lactation consultant was the preferred method for learning breastfeeding for 80% of residents; other frequently selected teaching formats included talks during morning and noon conferences and case-based learning.
Conclusion Our survey documents specific areas in which house officers need improved teaching to foster better breastfeeding compliance in our hospital. Comparison of pre- and post-curriculum survey results will evaluate the efficacy of curricular change in improving house officer comfort with and knowledge of breastfeeding.
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