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Breastfeeding Knowledge of University Nursing Students

Ahmed, Azza DNSc, IBCLC, CPNP; Bantz, Diana PhD, FNP; Richardson, Clara MSN, RN-BC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2011 - Volume 36 - Issue 6 - p 361–367
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e31822de549
Feature Article

Objective To assess breastfeeding knowledge among senior nursing students and identify the types of breastfeeding knowledge the students have. We also investigated the relationship between the different types of breastfeeding knowledge.

Study Design and Methods An exploratory descriptive design used a convenience sample of 115 students from two schools of nursing in two Midwestern universities. Students who completed maternal/child nursing didactic and clinical courses were eligible to participate. A Breastfeeding Knowledge Questionnaire adapted from Brodribb, Fallon, Jackson, and Hegney (2008) was used. The questionnaire consisted of 24 items covering knowledge about benefits of breastfeeding, physiology of lactation, and breastfeeding management. Content and face validity were considered, and Cronbach's α for internal consistency was 0.70. Eligible students completed the questionnaire in class. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to describe student knowledge and to test the differences in breastfeeding knowledge.

Results Findings revealed a mean knowledge score of 17 ± 2.9 (total possible score 24). There was a significant difference in the students' knowledge regarding physiology of lactation and benefits of breastfeeding (t = -3.615, p = .000) and between benefits and breastfeeding management (t = 5.255, p = .000). There was a positive relationship between knowledge of physiology of lactation and breastfeeding management (r = 0.369, p = .000).

Clinical Implications Strategies are warranted to improve breastfeeding education in the nursing curriculum, focusing on breastfeeding management skills.

Nursing students were found to have general information about the benefits of breastfeeding, but little knowledge about physiology or breastfeeding management.

Azza Ahmed is an Assistant Professor at School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. The author can be reached via e-mail at

Diana Bantz is an Associate Professor at School of Nursing, Ball State University Muncie, IN.

Clara Richardson is Clinical Development Professional, Banner Health, Loveland, CO.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.