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Focus Group on Deaf Moms & Infant Care

Focus Group Research

RPRC:NCDHR researchers conducted a community-originated pioneering qualitative study of how Deaf women receive information about infant care. RPRC:NCDHR conducted 4 focus groups of deaf mothers in Rochester, NY. The goal was to understand individual behavior within a broader context using a social ecological model. Although the sample was small and had limited diversity, findings showed that participants were resourceful and able to seek support in caring for their infants, had good support from health professionals including doctors who sign, and that despite "struggles" they may have experienced, were persistent in establishing breastfeeding.

This unique study helped RPRC:NCDHR learn more about focus group methodology and recruitment in deaf populations. RPRC:NCDHR found that 6-8 participants are optimal given that all sessions must be video-taped using two cameras in order to capture signed-communication. In order to promote candid discussions of topics, RPRC:NCDHR made the methodological decision to use only deaf people to moderate and assist at focus groups. No hearing staff or researchers were present. Focus group discussions under these conditions generated rich, thick descriptions, stories, and comments.

The data related to infant feeding was especially noteworthy. All 18 of the deaf mothers in this small sample initiated breastfeeding. While this cannot predict the prevalence of breastfeeding initiation in the deaf population, the trend is encouraging, as breast milk is the optimal food for infants. In a recent conference presentation, RPRC:NCDHR choose to focus on breastfeeding given the richness of that data.

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Informational Breastfeeding Videos in ASL

After the conclusion of this Breastfeeding Focus Groups research project, some Deaf moms wanted to do more. Deaf moms and NCDHR staff worked together to produce a series of breastfeeding facts and personal stories, available as videos in American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf moms felt more breastfeeding information was needed, in their own language, to help other new moms.

Click here to watch the ASL video series.

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Chin NP, Cuculick J, Starr M, Panko T, Widanka H, Dozier A. Deaf mothers and breastfeeding: Do unique features of deaf culture and language support breastfeeding success? (Article) Journal of Human Lactation 2013.

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Cuculick A, Chin N, Dozier A. Deaf Mothers' Outreach for Breastfeeding Support: The Production of Vlogs (Abstract). Presented at the APHA 140th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA; 2012, Nov 7.

Cuculick J, Chin N, Starr M, Widanka H, and Dozier A. Do cultural features of language and community among deaf mothers enhance their success in breastfeeding? (Abstract) Presented at the APHA 139th Annual Meeting, Washington DC; 2011, November 1.

Cuculick J, Chin N, Starr M, Dozier A. Deaf mothers and breastfeeding: assessing their knowledge and practices through focus group discussions (Poster). Presented at the 2010 Joint Conference of the Society for Public Health Education and CDC Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) Program; 2010 Apr 7-9.

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