EXPLORING FACTORS AFFECTING BREASTFEEDING BEHAVIORS: A MIXED METHOD APPROACH
Breastfeeding is widely perceived as the best option for healthy mothers and infants due to its benefits. According to WHO, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months after birth and continue until the age of two. However, there are many factors that may influence mothers’ decisions to breastfeed and continue breastfeeding. This thesis is part of a project aimed at developing technology-driven interventions to support breastfeeding mothers. The first step in this project was mining social media data and using various Machine Learning approaches and thematic analysis to identify both the negative and positive factors influencing breastfeeding behaviors. This thesis builds on and advances the findings by validating the factors identified and also examining for possible effects of technologies on breastfeeding behaviors with the main aim of informing the design of persuasive technological interventions to support breastfeeding mothers. These factors range from personal, cultural, psychological, environmental, social factors to technological factors. We employed the mixed-method approach, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative study involved a large-scale study of 550 people from a diverse population of breastfeeding mothers, age 18 to 40+. The aim of the study was to investigate whether and how the various factors influence breastfeeding behavior. As a secondary objective, we also investigate possible moderating effects of age and mothers’ breastfeeding experience on how these factors influence their breastfeeding behavior. Using the data from the study, we developed five different models using the Partial Least Square Structural Equation Model (SEM) to show the relationship between various factors and the likelihood of breastfeeding and the moderating effect of age and experience. To uncover more insight regarding the mechanism through which these factors affect breastfeeding behaviors and shed light on the possible impact of technologies, we conduct an in-depth interview on 20 mothers. Based on the findings, we propose some persuasive intervention design guidelines to support breastfeeding mothers such as web-based intervention, Mobile applications, social media support groups, e-training, and awareness programs to exclusive breastfeeding. Public and private sectors must play active roles in developing breastfeeding support programs and systems for mothers.