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Curtin University
Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health

Evaluation of the Use of an Internet Intervention to Sustain Breastfeeding Duration in Regional Western Australia (2009-2013)

Chief Investigator

Funding

  • Healthway Health Promotion Research Fellowship (Health Promotion Foundation of Western Australia) ($260,231)
  • Western Australian Internet Association Inc., Community Development Grant ($4,000)

Project Aim and Objectives

  • To determine risk factors for the early cessation of breastfeeding in women living in metro and non-metro health regions.
  • To measure participants’ perception of an Internet intervention.
  • To investigate the psychosocial outcomes of breastfeeding women receiving an Internet intervention in metro and non-metro health regions.

Background

There are many benefits from breastfeeding. For the infant these include nutritional, immunological and psychological benefits and exclusive breastfeeding for an extended period of time will provide the greatest gains for infant development, some protection against childhood obesity and the prevention of chronic disease later in adult life. Health benefits for the mother include lactation amenorrhea, maternal weight loss, protection against premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer, bone remineralisation to levels exceeding those present before lactation, and more optimal blood glucose profiles in women with gestational diabetes.

Project Overview

This study has the potential to increase breastfeeding rates in isolated areas where support for breastfeeding is often limited or inaccessible, and to provide contemporary data on breastfeeding levels in rural areas. Through the effort of a limited number of support staff it is possible that many women who may have prematurely ceased breastfeeding can be encouraged and supported to continue thus improving the short and long term health outcomes for themselves and their infants. In turn this translates to an improvement in long term public health and less strain on the health system overall.
Although there are other breastfeeding Websites in existence (most obviously the Australian Breastfeeding Association), this intervention will provide individualised feedback and information for women on their breastfeeding concerns in the absence of other support.

Current Project Status

Piloting of the website is now finalised, however the website continues to develop and evolve. An interactive virtual website tour using Elluminate software has been trialled on the website. To date there are approximately 67 women in the intervention group and 65 in the control group. There has been some data analysis performed and reported at recent National and State based conferences.   

In the original research proposal a second regional site was documented to become involved once the pilot project completed and first site established. The idea to involve women from all over regional WA, and not just one other regional centre has been discussed, with regional dieticians as contact people. This idea has since been developed and promoted with an excellent response. The Goldfields and South-West have all been very enthusiastic to embrace this idea and data is now being collected in these regions.

Associated Projects

Conference Presentations

  • Giglia, R. (2010) Making links using an internet intervention to support breastfeeding mothers, and dieticians to conduct research, in regional Western Australian (WA) (Oral Presentation). Making Links, Perth, WA, 17 – 23 November 2010.
  • Giglia, R. (2010) A 2020 vision of supporting breastfeeding mothers, and dieticians to conduct research, in regional Western Australia (WA) using an internet intervention (Oral Presentation). Dieticians Association of Australia WA Branch State Symposium, Perth, WA, 23 September 2010.
  • Giglia, R. (2010) Alcohol and breastfeeding: Looking towards future antenatal education horizons’ and Breastfeeding into the future and beyond six months: Supporting Midwest mothers using an internet intervention (Oral Presentation). Community Health Nurses National Conference, Geraldton, WA, 26 – 28 August 2010.