Background and Aims It has been recognized that exclusive breast-feeding rates in our community are suboptimal. To determine if one of the reasons is insufficient counselling, we aimed to assess knowledge, attitude and practice of health professionals in our community.
Methods This was a prospective study performed in King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital during the yearly conference. We designed a questionnaire divided into three sections of multiple choice questions, the first assessing knowledge of basic facts related to breast-feeding, with the second and third assessing attitude and practice. A total of 322 questionnaires were filled in by physicians and nurses from various departments, midwives and health educators. Means and differences between occupations were calculated, and statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 17.0.
Results Mean knowledge score was 70% ± 10.1%. Differences between occupations was highly significant (p value < 0.001) with the highest scores in NICU physicians. Despite this variation, attitude and practice did not differ significantly between groups and positive answers were found in 92% and 61.4% respectively. Surprisingly, although 88% felt they were doing their best, only 42% gave options for working mothers, just below 50% tried to persuade nursing mothers regarding exclusive breast feeding, and a mere 36% counselled mothers on possible obstacles and how to overcome them.
Conclusions Despite generally high knowledge scores in our study population, as well as positive attitudes, actual practices need to be improved. Further studies to assess barriers to optimal counselling practices need to be performed.