Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Despite the overwhelming evidence of the health related benefits of breastfeeding for mother and infant, many parents choose bottle over breastfeeding when deciding which method of infant nutrition to choose. Little information exists in the literature regarding when or how new parents make the decision of how to feed their infant. Therefore, this descriptive study was conducted as a partial replication of an earlier study by Forrester, Wheelock, and Warren (1997). The theoretical framework for this study was based globally on Orem’s Self Care Deficit theory (1995) and more specifically on Pender’s Health Promotion Model (1996). Eighty-eight high school and college students completed the Forrester, Wheelock, and Warren (1997) survey tool regarding their attitudes toward breastfeeding. The surveys were completed during class at one mid-western university and two rural high schools. The purpose of the study was to identify attitudes present within a segment of the community prior to the childbirth experience. Chi squares were calculated for statistically significant differences in breastfeeding attitudes based on gender, education, and age. Statistically significant differences were noted between males and females regarding acceptable places for a woman to breastfeed. Males and females had statistically significant differences for doctor’s office x2 (1, N=88) =3.94, p=0.05, church, x2 (1, N=88) =6.36, p=0.01, and park, x2 (1, N=88) =6.09, p=0.01. Similar findings with significant differences were determined for education level and age group regarding acceptable places to breastfeed. Additional statistically significant differences were noted between gender and education level when students were asked if they would breastfeed or support breastfeeding of their own future infants. Male and female responses whether they would breastfeed or support breastfeeding their own child were x2 (1, N=88) =8.64, p=0.003 and for education level a significant of x2 (1, N=88) =3.91, p=0.05. Student responses to the survey question or whether they would be embarrassed if a family member or friend breastfed in their presence showed statistically significant differences for gender x2 (1, N=88) 6.49, p=0.01, and age group at x2 (2, N=88) 6.33, p=0.04. Investigation findings were compared to the literature base. Based on the investigation findings implications for nursing practice, research and nursing education were suggested. Research into when and how attitudes are formed would be useful. A need is shown for additional studies into the impact of breastfeeding education on all members of society. Studies to determine the resulting increase in the numbers of mothers initiating breastfeeding and the duration of breastfeeding would then need to be researched. In practice health care providers should determine sources of breastfeeding education and based on research determine what methods are most effective. Educational materials need to be assessed for accuracy and effectiveness. Materials and curriculum for nurses must include accurate current breastfeeding education and promote a supportive environment towards breastfeeding for all parents. This study fits well with Orem’s Grand Theory and Pender’s Health Promotion Model. A partial assessment of the community by this study gives insight into attitudes toward breastfeeding held by students in two mid-western high schools and university. Orem and Pender state that an assessment of the community is vital before promotion of any health related activity.


Dr. Karyolyn Kells

Date of Award

Fall 2001

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2001 Anna L. Collins


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