Monday, March 30, 2009

Breastfeeding & social marketing

This week for my breastfeeding class, I'm hard at work on a social marketing project. My idea is to market to health care providers (in this case doctors) to encourage them to talk to their patients about breastfeeding. Despite good evidence that doctors' encouragement does make a difference, I think a lot of doctors don't know/believe it or don't know how to start the conversation. My goal is to give them a little evidence to nudge them forward, and the tools to do it (pocket cards with ideas for how to start the conversation).

The hardest part has been the required focus group - I wanted to focus group it with OB or family practice residents who do prenatal care, and one of my classmates is a family practice physician at a nearby university. She tried to help me think of ways I could snatch a tiny bit of the residents' time, but we came up empty. Apparently they don't even sit down to eat lunch because by then they're running behind. So I'm focus grouping it with med students, who have a more flexible schedule but not much hands-on practice experience. This just serves to illustrate another reason for not discussing breastfeeding: no time.

It is sad, though, to realize that no matter how hard I work on this project, I may never come up with a breastfeeding social marketing campaign as fantastic as this:

I forwarded it to a couple of friends who used to live in Thailand, and they assured me that this is very representative of Thai soap operas, although probably without the list of vitamins found in breastmilk.


pinky said...

What about using CNMs as a focus group? Or nurses? I think much of the problems could be circumvented if more post partum nurses were on board and they had enough post partum nurses.

Some hospitals expect a post partum nurse to take care of 5 Mother and baby units. So some Moms are gonna have twins, some Moms are going to have babies who need some medical care. The time needed to help breast feed can get cut real short because these nurses are over stretched.

I also think the residents have no time is bullsh1t. My sister in law is a surgeon. During residency the drug reps got her attention with food. What year residents are you going after? Bring food to the hospital, that usually softens them up.

publichealthdoula said...

I thought about those, but I decided to go after the hardest nut to crack! There's evidence showing that while nurses give patients most feeding advice, patients value doctors' opinions the most (I know, I know...not my hierarchical system). So if we can get doctors at least discussing it prenatally instead of just saying "breast or bottle?" that might make a big difference in willingness to give it a shot.

I am bringing cookies for the med students! It's just hard for me to get into the hospital, I don't have an "in" like the drug reps do and not much time for the assignment. If I get good feedback on this, I might take it on as a summer project to do more focus grouping and be more aggressive about going after the residents' feedback.