Event Abstract

Engaging fathers with a breastfeeding app: Preliminary process evaluation from the Milk Man mobile app intervention.

  • 1 Curtin University, School of Public Health, Australia
  • 2 Curtin University, Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health (CERIPH), Australia
  • 3 Curtin University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Australia
  • 4 University of Western Australia, Telethon Kids Institute, Australia

Rationale Breastfeeding is internationally recognized as the best first food for babies. Despite the recommendation from the World Health Organization that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, many countries fall short of achieving this. Paternal support is integral to a woman’s decision to initiate and continue breastfeeding yet fathers can sometimes feel unprepared for their new role. Previous research has demonstrated targeting breastfeeding interventions at fathers can be an effective approach. Mobile interventions offer unique opportunities to reach people with health information and to encourage users to engage with the information, and with other users. There remain gaps in knowledge about how different engagement strategies can work best to reach different user groups, and engage them with health apps. Aims The Milk Man app intervention aims to increase the support that fathers provide their breastfeeding partners. The app uses a range of strategies designed to engage participants in information and conversations about breastfeeding and early parenting. It is anticipated that this increased support will result in an increase in the duration of exclusive and/or any breastfeeding. Methodology Milk Man is a mobile app designed specifically for fathers that is currently being trialed in the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative (PIFI) study. The PIFI is a four-armed, factorial randomized control trial (RCT) aiming to increase breastfeeding duration by targeting fathers with information and support. Expecting couples are recruited to the study from antenatal classes in Perth, Western Australia. Fathers randomly assigned to an app intervention group receive the Milk Man app from recruitment (antenatally) until their baby is 26 weeks old. The app aims to deliver time-relevant information to fathers about breastfeeding and early parenting through an information library and a conversation. Milk Man uses a number of engagement strategies designed to encourage fathers to use the app including targeted design, push notifications, social connectively and gamification. A customized analytics framework embedded in the app provides ongoing analytics data and process evaluation data is also collected from questionnaires administered to parents at 6 and 26 weeks post birth. Analysis, Data collection for the RCT is ongoing. This paper will present preliminary process evaluation results from the first 204 Milk Man participants who have completed the study. Results Preliminary analysis of the 44,251 log events captured in the analytics framework reveal 690 conversation postings (average of 3.4 per user), 4006 library article opens (average of 19.6 per user) and 1756 poll votes (average of 8.6 per user). More in depth analysis of these data, combined with questionnaire data, will be presented at the conference. Conclusions The process evaluation results of the Milk Man app intervention will provide valuable insight into the acceptability of the engagement strategies, motivations for usage, patterns of app usage and user perspectives on the app. The results will be of interest to people developing health intervention apps, and in particular, those seeking to use innovative approaches to influence paternal attitudes about breastfeeding.


The research on which this presentation is based is being conducted as part of the Parent Infant Feeding Initiative (PIFI). The study was funded by a Healthway Health Promotion Research Grant (No:24023). We are grateful to those who have participated, and are participating in this research.

Keywords: mHealth app, Fathers, breastfeeding, engagement, Gamification, Social Connectivity, process evaluation, Randomised controlled trial

Conference: 3rd UCL Centre for Behaviour Change Digital Health Conference 2017: Harnessing digital technology for behaviour change, London, United Kingdom, 22 Feb - 23 Feb, 2017.

Presentation Type: Research abstract

Topic: Digital Health

Citation: White BK, Burns SK, Dhaliwal S, Giglia RC and Scott JA (2017). Engaging fathers with a breastfeeding app: Preliminary process evaluation from the Milk Man mobile app intervention.
. Front. Public Health. Conference Abstract: 3rd UCL Centre for Behaviour Change Digital Health Conference 2017: Harnessing digital technology for behaviour change. doi: 10.3389/conf.FPUBH.2017.03.00011

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Received: 22 Feb 2017; Published Online: 22 Feb 2017.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Becky K White, Curtin University, School of Public Health, Perth, Western Australia, 6845, Australia, becky.white@curtin.edu.au