Background: Breastfeeding is considered the best infant-feeding method. Norway is one of the leading countries in terms of breastfeeding initiation and duration. To maintain this high breastfeeding rate, it is important to understand the factors that influence breastfeeding. A doctor s advice can improve the rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration, but not all doctors are competent in breastfeeding counselling. Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify the knowledge and beliefs of general practitioners (GPs) about breastfeeding in Norway and to investigate how important they considered guidance about breastfeeding initiation and duration before and after birth. Design: A questionnaire study about knowledge and beliefs according to predefined correct responses and about self-perceived competence as an advisor. Subjects: 122 GPs engaged in apprenticeship for medical students. Results: The response rate was 57%, 69 GPs participated. The questions were answered correctly according to national consensus for 49 % for the knowledge items and 64 % of the belief items. The GPs believed that their guidance was more important after than before birth. Female GPs had more confidence in their guidance ability than male GPs. Confidence in the GPs own guidance after birth was associated with knowledge about contraindications to breastfeeding. Conclusion: Although the GPs expressed beliefs favouring breastfeeding they partly lacked basic knowledge. The GPs confidence in own guidance was better after than before birth and was higher among those with more knowledge. Improved knowledge and emphasis on guidance before birth should be promoted among GPs.
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