A Theory of Planned Behavior-Based Structural Model for Breast-Feeding

Laura Duckett, Susan Henly, Melissa D Avery, Sue Potter, Sharon Hills-Bonczyk, Rebecca Hulden, Kay Savik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Background: Breast-feeding is the recommended method of infant feeding because it is clearly associated with health benefits for infants and their mothers. Yet, many women who initiate breast-feeding fail to meet their own personal goals or recommended standards for duration of breast-feeding. Objective: To refine a Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)-based structural model for explaining variability in breast-feeding intention and duration. Method: The study design was prospective, multicorrelational, and longitudinal. Out of the total sample of 635 women, 602 mothers of healthy, full-term infants provided complete datasets over the entire course of their breast-feeding experience and these datasets were used in the modeling analyses. Simultaneous multisample analysis of covariance structures was used to develop the model. Results: The resulting TPB for Breast-Feeding (TPB-BrF) describes the rational, motivational processes of the original TPB, but reconfigures the relationships among them, for homemakers (TPB-BrF/H), women employed half-time or (less (TPB-BrF/EL), and women employed more than half-time (TPB-BrF/EM). Mothers' early postpartum ratings of adequacy of milk supply and stimulus conditions of maternal education and breast-feeding knowledge were included in the TPB-BrF to better explain breast-feeding outcomes. Model complexity increased with employment effort. Conclusion: The TPB-BrF is a comprehensive, theoretically based, empirically verified model that can serve as a useful heuristic for understanding the personal motivational components of breast-feeding behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-336
Number of pages12
JournalNursing research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


  • Breast-feeding
  • Employed women
  • Homemakers
  • Theory of planned behavior


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