Media Presentation of Breastfeeding Beliefs in Newspapers
Despite numerous health benefits for babies and mothers, many women do not either initiate or continue breastfeeding for the recommended duration, and increasing breastfeeding is a national priority. It is important to understand media messages on the topic, given that breastfeeding is influenced by many environmental factors and that perceived norms, social support, and perceptions of difficulties predict breastfeeding. The current study analyzes how media covers (1) breastfeeding in general, (2) public breastfeeding, and (3) extended breastfeeding (past 1 year). Guided by the theory of planned behavior, this study analyzes 318 news articles sampled from 10 of the most commonly read mainstream newspapers from 2008–2013. This sample covers a wide range of topics related to breastfeeding, including health benefits, societal reform efforts, social/human interest stories, parenting choices, and stories about pumped breast milk and formula. The results indicate approving social norms by public health officials and medical professionals about breastfeeding in general. A significantly larger number of articles discussed positive behavioral beliefs associated with breastfeeding rather than negative behavioral beliefs. However, articles more often presented barriers, rather than factors that facilitate breastfeeding. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
DOI of Published Version
Hitt, Rose; Zhuang, Jie; and Anderson, Jennifer, "Media Presentation of Breastfeeding Beliefs in Newspapers" (2017). Communication Studies Publications. 42.