Published: February 14, 2019

Gallegos, D., Cromack, C., & Thorpe, K. J. (2018). Can a phone call make a difference? Breastfeeding self-efficacy and nurse responses to mother’s calls for help. Journal of Child Health Care, 1367493518757066.



Danielle Gallegos, Ceridwen Cromack and Karen J Thorpe


Telephone support is a format that presents an opportunity to sustain breastfeeding at a time when mothers identify themselves as at risk of cessation. The interactive mechanisms by which support is provided have not, however, been well investigated. We aimed to identify characteristics of calls that support breastfeeding self-efficacy. Thematic analysis of 149 calls from mothers seeking help for breastfeeding made to a 24-hour parenting helpline over a four week period, in Brisbane, Australia. Call-takers were 12 qualified and experienced maternal and child health nurses. Calls classified according to changes in breastfeeding self-efficacy across the call were thematically analysed to identify distinguishing interactional characteristics. Key interactional characteristics that served to build self-efficacy were privileging the mother, teamwork and credible affirmation while those that failed to build self-efficacy were laissez-faire affirmation and pragmatic problem-solving responses. Nurse responses that undermined caller self-efficacy conceptualized breastfeeding as a problem. Telephone helplines have potential to enhance mothers’ confidence and sustain breastfeeding when there is a call for help, this study highlights that the style of interaction is critical. The findings identify the need for specific training to increase awareness of interactional styles and delivery of advice through telehealth formats.