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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is, as the health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child have already been fully ascertained, to highlight the differences on why short- and long-term breastfeeding mothers adopt their respective behaviours. Based on these findings, a model for long-term breastfeeding is put forward here. The aim is to identify the specific variables and processes that create confidence during the early days in breastfeeding mothers so that social marketing campaigns can be deployed more effectively to sustain this behaviour over time. Design/methodology/approach – The validity and reliability of the scales used were tested using Cronbach’s alpha and exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Differences in cognition, attitudes and behaviour with respect to breastfeeding between the short- and long-term breastfeeding mothers were analysed with ANOVA and multi-group structural equation modelling. An independent self-administered questionnaire was given to 311 breastfeeding mothers in 2008. The surveys were carried out at the Maternity Hospital together with five other medical centres on the island of Gran Canaria (5 per cent error and 95 per cent reliability). This can be considered to be a fair representation of trends in breastfeeding in Spain, as most births take place in similar state hospitals. Findings – As expected, short- and long-term breastfeeding mothers differed over the key variables. While attitudes toward, and knowledge of, breastfeeding produce the adoption of breastfeeding, long-term commitment seems to relate more to general knowledge on health and other intangibles. Practical implications – In light of these results, specific marketing efforts should be designed to achieve the continuation of breastfeeding. Interventions that focus on attitudes toward, and knowledge of, breastfeeding may prove ineffective. Originality/value – As many worldwide research projects suggest, the extremely large percentage of mothers who discontinue breastfeeding before the infant reaches six months of age represent a greater challenge than the relatively low percentage of mothers who choose not to breastfeed from the beginning. This paper focuses on long-term commitment and outlines a possible model to promote the same.
Journal of Social Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 12, 2015
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