Published On: 27/10/2014|Categories: 2013–2017, Vol.35 (2014), Vol.35 (3)|

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Breastfeeding is generally accepted as the optimal method of infant feeding. However, many infants in the Netherlands are breastfed only for a short period. The present study aims to investigate the effect of framing breastfeeding-promoting messages in terms of the gains (advantages) associated with breastfeeding, compared with framing in terms of the losses (disadvantages) associated with the alternative behaviour, formula-feeding. The respondents, 96 women, took part in a web-based experiment, with statements of advantages of breastfeeding as well as disadvantages of formula-feeding as experimental stimuli. Stimuli were combined using a 4 (advantages) × 3 (disadvantages) full factorial within subjects design, with advantages presented as either ‘benefits of breastfeeding’ or ‘disadvantages of formula-feeding’ (between subjects). Women reported their attitude towards breastfeeding on a graphical rating scale after each presentation of a combination of arguments. Three clusters of response patterns could be distinguished. There was no overall effect of message framing on breastfeeding attitude. However, there was a significant interaction between framing and the presented advantages. Gain framed messages seem to yield a more positive attitude when low impact advantages are presented, whereas loss-framed messages were more effective in high impact health advantages. This effect was only present in the cluster of women who seem to take into account both information about advantages and disadvantages in a similar way. It can be concluded that the impact of message framing on the development of an attitude towards breastfeeding is limited and depends on the type of message presented and the information integration pattern followed by the respondent. Future breastfeeding promotion activities are recommended to be tailored based on specific characteristics of the target population, to optimally enhance breastfeeding attitude in each woman.

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