Anthony B Fallon
Breastfeeding is an important public health measure. General
practitioners are in an ideal position to provide information,
support and encouragement for breastfeeding women but require
up to date knowledge and skills. Overseas studies indicate
that doctors often have significant breastfeeding knowledge
deficits. This article examines the sources of information about
breastfeeding available to general practice registrars and the
perceived adequacy of this knowledge for their work in the
general practice setting.
A 90 item questionnaire covering demographics, breastfeeding
training, knowledge, attitudes, confidence and effectiveness was
distributed to 483 subsequent term general practice registrars
between February and May 2007 via regional training providers.
The questionnaire response rate was 33%. The most common
avenue for learning about breastfeeding was at medical
school (49.4%), while the most useful source of breastfeeding
information was personal breastfeeding experience for registrars
who were parents (62.2%), and during hospital terms after
graduation for registrars who were not parents (35.5%). Only
23.6% of the participants thought they did not require further
Breastfeeding training opportunities in medical schools
and postgraduation are limited. There is a clear need for a
breastfeeding training program for both general practice
registrars and GPs.
In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council and The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommend breastfeeding for at least the first 12 months of an infant’s life,1,2 based on the known disadvantages of not breastfeeding for the mother and child.3,4 A Victorian study found that the mean number of visits by mothers to a general practitioner in the first 6 months postpartum was 7.7.5 General practitioners are therefore in an ideal position to assist and support breastfeeding women.
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