Evaluation of a Breastfeeding App in Rural Australia: Prospective Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background:

New mothers often need support to establish and maintain breastfeeding, and rural women may find it difficult to access breastfeeding resources locally. There are many smartphone applications for breastfeeding mothers; however, very few have been developed by health professionals. We evaluated a smartphone application, Breastfeeding Solutions, developed by U.S. IBCLC Nancy Mohrbacher.

Research aims:

The aims were (a) to explore usability of the application among rural Australian breastfeeding women and (b) to describe participants’ infant feeding outcomes compared with the general population.

Methods:

A prospective longitudinal self-report survey design was used. Data were collected via online questionnaires at baseline and at 3 and 6 months from a convenience sample of new mothers. The setting was southwest Victoria, Australia, from 2016 to 2017. Descriptive statistics were used to answer research aims.

Results:

Of the initial 46 participants who received the app, 63% (n = 29) completed surveys at 3 and 6 months. Usability was assessed at 3 months: 93.5% of participants (29 of 31) rated the application favorably, whereas 96.8% (30 of 31) found the application helpful and 87.1% (27 of 31) would recommend it to other mothers. At the 6-month survey, 79% of participants (n = 23) were breastfeeding; 10% (n = 3) had stopped breastfeeding during the first 3 months. The local breastfeeding rate at 6 months was approximately 50% according to routinely collected data; however, we cannot infer that the application was responsible for the difference.

Conclusion:

The smartphone application was acceptable to breastfeeding women in an Australian rural setting. Further evaluation using a user-centered design could improve rural postpartum women’s access to reliable, evidence-based information.

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