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Success of a Lactation Education Program on NICU Nurses' Knowledge and Attitudes


Laura W. Bernaix, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, P.O. Box 1066, Edwardsville, IL 62062.


Objectives: To test an educational intervention designed to improve lactation knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of NICU nurses and to improve their intentions to provide mothers with lactation support.

Design: Quasi-experimental, time-series pretest/posttest.

Setting: NICU of a Midwestern, free-standing, tertiary-care children's hospital.

Participants: Convenience sample of 64 NICU nurses and 2 separate convenience samples of mothers of infants hospitalized in the NICU (n=19 and 13, respectively).

Methods: Nurses were measured on study outcomes at multiple time points, beginning with 2 weeks before and ending at 3 months after attendance to a 4-hour educational program. Mothers were sampled before and 3 months after the intervention.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Nurses' lactation knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and intentions to support lactation and mothers' perceptions of lactation support in the NICU.

Results: Findings suggest that this educational intervention was effective for improving NICU nurses' lactation knowledge and attitudes, and that these improvements were maintained over time. Further, the supportive atmosphere for lactation in this NICU significantly improved following the implementation of the educational intervention for nurses.

Conclusion: Intermittent, short educational programs which include practical how-to's and motivational encouragement for staff may provide the empowerment nurses need in order to be supportive of lactation.