PhD Studentship: Can a combined midwifery and chiropractic intervention clinic enhance student education and improve breastfeeding rates?

Bournemouth University - Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Lead Supervisor name: Professor Edwin van Teijlingen

Suboptimal breastfeeding is a recognised problem amongst mothers and healthcare professionals worldwide. According to UK statistics in 2010, 81% of mothers initiated breastfeeding, and yet exclusive breastfeeding rates plummeted to 46% at one week, 23% at six weeks and 1% at six months. Statistics at one year represent the lowest breastfeeding rates globally. Extensive evidence demonstrates how important breastfeeding is for all women and children. Even in high-income countries, it prevents infant morbidity from respiratory and inner ear infections, diarrhoea, reduces infant mortality from necrotising enterocolitis and sudden infant death syndrome and reduces incidence of maternal morbidity and mortality from breast cancer, diabetes and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also increases the educational potential of children which could result in higher incomes as adults.

High quality evidence has consistently proposed significant economic savings with breastfeeding suggesting that supporting women to continue breastfeeding to four months could result in the NHS saving £11 million annually. The latest evidence estimates the total savings from increased breastfeeding to be billions rather than millions.

With most mothers wanting to breastfeed for longer, it is often distressing when they encounter problems and then give up, which in turn increases their risk of postnatal depression. The Lancet series highlighted the need for investment in interventions that are tailored to respond to patterns of suboptimal breastfeeding within individual locations, delivered at a scale to benefit all mothers and children, with monitoring of feeding patterns to evaluate outcomes.

The Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) has an established self-referral clinic to treat newborn infants with biomechanical related difficulties affecting feeding but was unable to offer practical breastfeeding support for the mother. BU has an established record in the art and science of breastfeeding support having gained UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation for the midwifery programme and having conducted pioneering research in breastfeeding. A collaborating student-led infant feeding clinic was set up offering a holistic approach to support to improve breastfeeding outcomes and to provide an enhanced environment for interprofessional learning for students.

Aim: to evaluate the working and outcomes of the joint BU-AECC breastfeeding clinic in terms of perceptions of effectiveness among service users (women and their partners), practitioners and students.

Method: Mixed methods study comprising face-to-face interviews with service-users and practitioners/students as well as a questionnaire study of all service users over a six–eight month period.

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £14,000 per annum (unless otherwise specified), to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 36 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met.

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

Closing date: The first call for applications will close on 15 December 2016.

For further information on how to apply click the ‘Apply’ button below or email

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