A training needs survey of doctors' breastfeeding support skills in England

Wallace, Louise M. and Kosmala-Anderson, Joanna (2006). A training needs survey of doctors' breastfeeding support skills in England. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 2(4) pp. 217–231.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-8709.2006.00070.x

URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16999767


The study examined the training needs of paediatricians and general practitioners (GPs). Respondents rated their competence on 23 breastfeeding support skills, importance of update in the next 2 years, actual and potential helpfulness of different forms of professional updates, and accessibility in the next 2 years. The perception of organizational barriers to breastfeeding support and practitioners'knowledge of policies and guidance on breastfeeding were also examined. The sample comprised 120 paediatricians and 57 GPs. Response rates were estimated as between 4% and 29%, depending upon the method of recruitment. Although both groups rated themselves as fairly competent in most of the skill areas, they welcomed training in key areas of practice. Paediatricians identified more areas for update than GPs (t = 3.44; d.f. = 178; P <0.00001). Those who believed that they were less competent in clinical skills were least likely to seek update (r = 0.35; P <0.00001). Practical forms of training were most often welcomed. Only 47% of GPs and 62.5% of paediatricians had access to a local breastfeeding policy. There were evident gaps in knowledge on key aspects of public health policy, which could influence local practice; for example, 50.8% of GPs and 47.5% of paediatricians identified a younger age for introducing solids than the minimum according to current government guidance. Organizational barriers to breastfeeding support were experienced by all respondents. Recommendations include purposively targeting training to those least likely to seek training, and developing effective self-study and observational methods of learning. All training should be evaluated and implemented alongside breastfeeding policies and clinical leadership to improve the practice of all healthcare practitioners.

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