Employers' Intention to Support Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Thursday, 16 July 2009: 1:45 PM

Wilaiporn Rojjanasrirat, PhD, RNC, IBCLC
School of Nursing, University of Kansas, Kansas City, KS
Summer Bryant, RN, BSN, CMSRN
School of Nursing, University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, KS

Learning Objective 1: identify available workplace breastfeeding support among small, medium, and large size businesses.

Learning Objective 2: identify factors influencing employers’ intention to support breastfeeding in working mothers.

Purpose: Maternal employment outside the home is associated with short breastfeeding duration. Employers are key to providing breastfeeding support in the workplace and enhancing the success of breastfeeding in working mothers. Assessing workplace breastfeeding support and understanding factors influencing employers’ intention to support breastfeeding will help identify effective strategies to achieve the Healthy People 2010 goals for continued breastfeeding.  The purpose of the study was to explore breastfeeding support services and to assess factors associated with employers’ intention to support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a guide.

Methods: A secondary data analysis using data from a psychometric testing study was conducted.  The sample included 380 business owners or managers from small, medium, and large companies in the Midwestern United States. Intention and other TPB variables were measured by the Employers’ Support of Breastfeeding Questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, Chi-square tests, and multiple regression analyses were used.

Results: Small and medium size businesses provided significantly less benefits and breastfeeding support services than the large businesses. Only 6% of employers reported that their organization provided policies regarding workplace breastfeeding support. The employers’ intention to support breastfeeding scores were similar regardless of business size. Regression analysis revealed that attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived breastfeeding control significantly predicted employers’ intention to support breastfeeding after controlling for gender and education level (F3,349 = 78.5, P = .000, R2 = 0.43).

Conclusion: Significant differences in workplace breastfeeding support between large, medium, and small businesses were found. These findings provide a means for developing strategies that may be effective in increasing workplace breastfeeding support. Implication for clinical practice, policy, and research will be discussed.