Breastfeeding Education In Family Medicine Residencies: A 2019 CERA Program Directors Survey

Abstract [from journal]

Background and objectives: Breastfeeding counseling is an integral skill for all family physicians, regardless of whether they ultimately practice maternal child health (MCH). Evidence on time spent in breastfeeding education and resident competence is lacking. This study aimed to identify program characteristics associated with an increase the amount of breastfeeding education and program directors' (PDs) perceived competence of residents' breastfeeding counseling skills.

Methods: A national survey of family medicine PDs including breastfeeding questions was conducted as part of the 2019 CERA survey. We specifically sought to identify variables that correlate with increased breastfeeding education time and perceived competence.

Results: Family medicine programs with greatest breastfeeding education time and perceived resident competence included lactation consultants, had more MCH visits in resident continuity clinic, more graduates that practice MCH, and included competency evaluations by faculty. There was more volume of breastfeeding education in programs with group prenatal care and an academic affiliation. There was greater perceived competence among programs with more hours of breastfeeding training overall.

Conclusions: This study defines associations with curricular targets for improved breastfeeding counseling competence among family medicine residents. Inclusion of lactation consultants, regular faculty observation of counseling skills, and group prenatal care may be gradually introduced in programs to strengthen resident education and skills in breastfeeding counseling. The body of evidence in this field remains lacking, and further research is needed to characterize curricular interventions that increase resident competence in this important skill.