Western Australian women's perceptions of conflicting advice around breast feeding
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Objective: to explore women's perceptions of conflicting advice around breast feeding from formal support networks, specifically health professionals involved in postnatal support. Design, setting and participants: a qualitative exploratory design was employed using the critical incident technique. Data were obtained from 62 Western Australian women who responded to an invitation to share incidents of receiving conflicting advice. Women who had breast fed a child within the past 12 months shared their experience through a telephone interview (n=50) or completing a brief questionnaire (n=12) addressing the following questions: Describe a situation in detail where you felt you received conflicting advice about breast feeding from a health professional. How did this situation affect you and/or your breast feeding? Findings: a modified constant comparison method was used to analyse the critical incidents revealing commonalities under who offered conflicting advice; what contributed to advice being perceived as conflicting; topic areas more inclined to being regarded as conflicting; what protected against advice being perceived as conflicting; the consequences of receiving conflicting advice; and strategies that women used to manage these incidents. Key conclusions and implications for practice: advice that was viewed as conflicting extended beyond the provision of information that was inconsistent or directly contradictory, and included issues around information overload and disparities between the mother's and health professional's expectations. The manner of presenting information or advice, the skills of using effective communication, demonstration of a caring attitude with an empathic approach and focusing upon the woman as an individual were seen to be important to minimise these incidents. Attention to women's perceptions and the consequences of conflicting advice must be addressed, otherwise the credibility and confidence in health professionals' knowledge and ability to support breast feeding is questioned, resulting in a valuable support network being selectively ignored. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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