Feasibility and acceptability of a mobile app in an ecological momentary assessment of early breastfeeding.

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Abstract

Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a novel data collection method that samples subject experiences in real-time - minimizing recall bias. Here, we describe the feasibility of EMA to track breastfeeding behaviour through a mobile phone app. During their birth hospitalization, we approached healthy, first-time mothers intending to exclusively breastfeed for at least 2 months to participate in a study tracking breastfeeding through 8 weeks postpartum. Participants downloaded a commercially available smartphone app, entered information and thoughts about breastfeeding as they occurred, and emailed this data weekly. We called participants at 2 and 8 weeks to assess breastfeeding status. At the 8-week call, we also assessed participants' experiences using the app. Of the 61 participants, 38% sent complete or nearly complete feeding data, 24% sent some data, and 38% sent no data; 58% completed at least one free-text breastfeeding entry, and five women logged daily or near daily entries. Compared with women who sent no data, those who sent any were more likely to be married, highly educated, intend to breastfeed more than 6 months, have a more favourable baseline attitude towards breastfeeding, and less likely to have used formula during hospitalization. There was a high degree of agreement between participant-reported proportion of breast milk feeds via app and interview data at 2 weeks (ICC 0.97). Experiences with the app ranged from helpful to too time-consuming or anxiety-provoking. Participants and researchers encountered technical issues related to app use and analysis, respectively. While our data do not support the feasibility of stand-alone app-based EMA to track breastfeeding behaviour, it may provide rich accounts of the breastfeeding experience for certain subgroups of women. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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