Health Care and Social Service Providers' Descriptions of Pacific Islander Mothers' Breastfeeding Patterns

Jeanie L. Flood, Joan E. Dodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Despite recommendations and numerous health benefits attributed to breastfeeding, rates in the United States are below desired levels, particularly within vulnerable populations. In Hawaií, breastfeeding rates are higher than national averages except in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations. Health care and social service providers are integral to successful breastfeeding promotion efforts. They are in an ideal position to reflect on the context in which their clients live and on its relationship to breastfeeding activities. The aim of this study was to describe health care and social service providers' perceptions of the influences on the breastfeeding patterns of Pacific Islander women. Methods: Focus ethnographic methods were used to collect interview data from health care and social service providers (N = 20) serving Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women in one rural community. An iterative analysis process of coding and categorizing, followed by conceptual abstraction into patterns, was completed. Results: Four patterns emerged: shaped by connections, lived unfamiliarity, stressed by circumstance, and missed opportunities. Participants' insights concerning the needs of this population yielded population-specific issues and health care system issues affecting breastfeeding promotion. A number of gaps in breastfeeding services were identified. Discussion: Sociocultural, maternal knowledge, and workload barriers to successful breastfeeding predominated providers' perspectives. Broader system and community level issues were implied, but not directly addressed. The nature of successful breastfeeding support and promotion requires inclusion of this broader level perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-170
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Native Hawaiian
  • Pacific Islander
  • breastfeeding
  • ethnography
  • health care provider
  • infant feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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