Breastfeeding: Perceived Barriers and Benefits/Enhancers in a Rural and Urban Setting


Address correspondence to Betty Alexy, School of Nursing, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529.


Abstract This study investigated differences in perceived benefits/enhancers and barriers between women who planned to breastfeed, those who were uncertain, and those who did not plan to breastfeed. The volunteers were obtained from rural (60) and urban (82) public health department prenatal clinics. Fifty-three percent of the women were married, the average age was 23 years, 25% had not graduated from high school, 38% were black, and 46% were planning to return to work. The breastfeeding inventory consisted of 13 items to measure benefits and enhancers, 15 to measure barriers, and an openended question. Cronbach's alphas for internal consistency for benefits and enhancers and barriers were 0.88 and 0.83 respectively. Analysis of variance found significant differences among the three groups on perceived benefits and barriers. Rural and urban differences existed in perceived benefits/ enhancers, but not in perceived barriers. In a multiple discriminant function analysis that included demographic characteristics, the most important predictor of breastfeeding decision was perceived benefits.