Use of electronic communication by physician breastfeeding experts for support of the breastfeeding mother

Jennifer R. Thomas, Ulfat Shaikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Breastfeeding initiation and duration increase because of physician encouragement. However, many physicians have not received education on breastfeeding, and some may not have a supportive attitude or commitment to breastfeeding. Patients identify dissatisfaction with their current provider as a motivating factor in seeking health information on the Internet. This survey was performed to determine how many physicians with an interest and expertise in breastfeeding are being contacted for breastfeeding information over the Internet and to examine physicians' attitudes to these requests. Subjects and Methods: An e-mail describing the survey, inviting participation, and containing a link to the online questionnaire was posted on the Web site of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and as well as on the Listserv of the American Academy of Pediatrics-Section on Breastfeeding. Information collected included physician training, successes and challenges related to providing breastfeeding medicine support by e-mail, and current level of e-mail communication with patients regarding breastfeeding issues. Results: One-fourth of physicians in our survey receive e-mails with questions about breastfeeding issues from patients with whom they have no preexisting relationships. More receive e-mail from known patients. This suggests that breastfeeding mothers seek expert information on the Internet. Over half of the physicians replied to e-mails individually and without any financial reimbursement. Conclusions: Many breastfeeding mothers reach out to breastfeeding experts over the Internet. Our findings suggest that physicians who provide care to breastfeeding mothers need further education on breastfeeding to provide adequate support to their own patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-396
Number of pages4
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery
  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy


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