Can a Call Make a Difference? Measured Change in Women’s Breastfeeding Self-efficacy Across Call Interactions on a Telephone Helpline

Abstract

Background Telephone helplines providing 24-h specialist-nurse contact present a source of immediate support for women encountering challenges with breastfeeding and may serve to prolong breastfeeding duration by building self-efficacy. To date there is little evidence on interaction effectiveness and still less on the relative effectiveness for women from different socio-economic backgrounds. Research Aim To establish the effect on maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy of calls made to a nurse-led parenting helpline. Methods From a corpus of calls made to the Australian Child Health Line (N = 723), those made by women presenting a breastfeeding concern as a prime issue (n = 60) were scored for breastfeeding self-efficacy at commencement and completion of recorded interactions. Analyses examined the significance and direction of change from beginning to end of calls and compared difference in change across calls originating from high and low social advantage locations. Results A significant increase in self-efficacy was found, but with low effect size. There was considerable variation among calls; 53% showed improvement, 25% showed no change and 22% showed reduction in breastfeeding self-efficacy. While most calls were made by women from socially advantaged locations, change was more positive for the small number of callers from disadvantaged locations. Conclusion The potential of nurse-led reactive telephone support is evident, but dependent on qualities of the interaction. For women living in disadvantaged locations telephone support may be of particular significance given the greater social barriers to breastfeeding they are likely to encounter.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the nurses and parent callers who consented to participate in this study. Data collection was supported by a grant from the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, Brisbane and Perpetual Trustees.

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Correspondence to Karen Thorpe.

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Thorpe, K., Jansen, E., Cromack, C. et al. Can a Call Make a Difference? Measured Change in Women’s Breastfeeding Self-efficacy Across Call Interactions on a Telephone Helpline. Matern Child Health J 22, 1761–1770 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-018-2573-3

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Keywords

  • Breastfeeding
  • Self-efficacy
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Telemedicine
  • Nursing