Grad Student’s Project Educates Health Care Professionals on Extended Nursing

Lauren extended bf photo projectTwo years into her Master of Public Health project at the State University of New York (SUNY), USA, Lauren Cockerham-Colas created an art exhibit titled “abNormally Nursing.”

The display consisted of 22 photographs of mother-child dyads, selected from the portraits of more than 50 families from five U.S. states shot by Lauren over a year’s time, along with extended nursing facts. The exhibit was used as a research tool to evaluate and influence the knowledge and attitudes of health care professionals toward extended breastfeeding.

The results were published as “Exploring and Influencing the Knowledge and Attitudes of Health Professionals Towards Extended Breastfeeding” in the January 2012 issue of the journal Breastfeeding Medicine.

Lauren was also honored with SUNY’s Arthur and Patricia Robins Award for Distinction for the project, and the display has since been a featured exhibit of the Museum of Motherhood in New York City, USA.

Now having graduated and working in public health, Lauren is considering publishing a book to help parents in educating others about extended nursing.

The Paper’s Abstract

Although many U.S. professional health organizations have policy statements that support the breastfeeding of children beyond one year (extended breastfeeding), the actual attitudes of health workers toward this practice have not been explored. The purposes of this study were:

  1. to explore the knowledge and attitudes of various U.S. health professionals toward extended nursing
  2. to pilot an educational display for U.S. health professionals to promote their knowledge and attitudes toward extended breastfeeding.

A total of 84 participants in a New York City academic medical center provided responses to a structured, self-administered questionnaire given before and after an educational display.

Respondents reported negative attitudes toward extended breastfeeding at baseline, with negative attitudes increasing as the age of the breastfed child increased. After education, the percentage of participants who found breastfeeding acceptable for 1- or 2-year-old children increased from 61 to 89%. Acceptability of 3- or 4-year-old children breastfeeding increased from 22-41%.

Viewing educational media concerning older nursing children may lead to more positive attitudes toward extended breastfeeding among health care professionals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *