Creation of a Regional Human Milk Assembly: A Model to Influence Practice and Policy Change in the NICU

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Abstract

Background:

The 2011 Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding highlights a need for optimizing lactation-based education for all health professionals; however, few schools of nursing and medicine offer lactation-based curriculum. In an effort to address these gaps in education and care, the director of the lactation program at a large urban children's hospital developed and instituted the annual regional Human Milk Assembly (HMA), a half-day collaborative meeting of the hospital's regional and referral hospitals' neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nursing staff, to address lactation-based educational and training needs of all participating institutions.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether and how participating HMA hospitals implemented the best practices surrounding human milk and breastfeeding shared by the host institution during a 10-year span of the HMA.

Methods:

A prospective descriptive study was designed using an electronic web-based survey (SurveyMonkey.com) to elicit participant data. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics whereas qualitative data were analyzed for themes via content analysis.

Results:

Thirty-one of the 50 hospitals surveyed responded to the electronic survey for a total of 34 individual participants. Seventeen of the 22 (77%) of best practices were implemented at rates of over 50%.

Implications for Practice:

By enabling a culture of transparency and sharing, hospital staff can be encouraged to implement best practices across a network of regional care centers.

Implications for Research:

This annual regional HMA could be a model for other areas and research should be conducted to evaluate such programs nationwide.

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