Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Applying Regulatory Focus Theory to Change Attitudes Toward Breastfeeding: Reaching Women Who Lack Confidence in Their Ability to Breastfeed

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

Breastfeeding has numerous advantages for the infant. Breastfeeding helps build the infant’s immune system in the early days of life. This is especially due to Immunoglobulin A (IgA) secretions in breast milk, which add immunological protection for the infant. In spite of this, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC; 2007), 42% of Kentucky infants do not receive any breast milk at all, and large numbers of infants in the United States as a whole share this situation. The current research tested how breastfeeding advocacy messages could be constructed to improve attitudes toward breastfeeding. Women intending to have children and varying in confidence about their ability to breastfeed were randomly assigned to a 2 (prevention vs. promotion focus) X 2 (gain vs. loss means frame) experiment. Prevention focused messages were more effective than promotion focused messages, but when breastfeeding confidence was taken into consideration, prevention focused messages in conjunction with loss means frames were most successful. For women low in confidence about their ability to breastfeed, prevention focused messages, combined with loss means frames, resulted in attitudes nearly as positive toward breastfeeding as those of women high in breastfeeding self-confidence. These findings demonstrate how regulatory focus theory can guide interventions to reach women who might otherwise not breastfeed.

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Applying Regulatory Focus Theory to Change Attitudes Toward Breastfeeding: Reaching Women Who Lack Confidence in Their Ability to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding has numerous advantages for the infant. Breastfeeding helps build the infant’s immune system in the early days of life. This is especially due to Immunoglobulin A (IgA) secretions in breast milk, which add immunological protection for the infant. In spite of this, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC; 2007), 42% of Kentucky infants do not receive any breast milk at all, and large numbers of infants in the United States as a whole share this situation. The current research tested how breastfeeding advocacy messages could be constructed to improve attitudes toward breastfeeding. Women intending to have children and varying in confidence about their ability to breastfeed were randomly assigned to a 2 (prevention vs. promotion focus) X 2 (gain vs. loss means frame) experiment. Prevention focused messages were more effective than promotion focused messages, but when breastfeeding confidence was taken into consideration, prevention focused messages in conjunction with loss means frames were most successful. For women low in confidence about their ability to breastfeed, prevention focused messages, combined with loss means frames, resulted in attitudes nearly as positive toward breastfeeding as those of women high in breastfeeding self-confidence. These findings demonstrate how regulatory focus theory can guide interventions to reach women who might otherwise not breastfeed.