Maternal & child nutrition 2017 10 04() doi 10.1111/mcn.12537
Worldwide, mothers with young children receive many messages about infant feeding. Some messages are generated by health providers and others by the households, communities, and social contexts in which women live. We aimed to determine the scope of infant feeding messages in urban Haiti and to examine intracultural differences in salience of these messages and their alignment with international guidelines. We applied the method of free listing with 13 health workers and 15 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and 15 HIV-uninfected mothers with infants 0-6 months old at Groupe Haïtien d’Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Participants listed all messages women receive about infant feeding and specifically about HIV and infant feeding. Message salience was determined by frequency of mention and recall order; messages were coded for key themes. For all groups, the World Health Organization infant feeding recommendations were salient, especially those related to exclusive breastfeeding. Messages across all groups focused on infant health outcomes, with less emphasis on maternal outcomes. Cultural beliefs were also elicited and showed higher salience for mothers than health workers, particularly for consequences of poor maternal nutrition. Health workers’ free lists were poorly correlated to those of mothers, whereas those of mothers were highly correlated, regardless of HIV status. Inasmuch as many salient messages were culturally generated, and differences existed between mothers and health workers, we conclude that it is important for health workers to acknowledge the broader infant feeding message environment, and discrepancies within that environment, to address successes and failures in the messages reaching mothers, given potential consequences for mothers’ breastfeeding behaviours.