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Title: Understanding the Role of Citizen Generated Data in the Context of Public Health – A Case Study on Breastfeeding and FeedFinder
Authors: Simpson, Emma
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Organisation until an infant is 6 months old. Yet, despite this, the UK has the lowest rates of breastfeeding seen across the world with only 1% of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. While promoting breastfeeding is considered a public health priority in the UK, budget cuts and subsequent reduction in local authority services have made it difficult to provide consistent support for women choosing to breastfeed. As such, ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ campaigns that aim to provide localised support for women and organisations have either disappeared or are poorly resourced. Against this background, FeedFinder has been developed to provide a platform for women to find, rate and review places in real-time based on how breastfeeding friendly they are. The application has been used by over 14000 women, mapping over 5000 venues with reviews from across the UK, with some reviews now seen for venues in Asia, America and Australia. FeedFinder is a civic technology, that is, where citizens have the potential to contribute to the shaping of communities, environments and potential local service delivery mediated through technology. The main aim of this research was to understand how FeedFinder and the data it provides might be used to leverage community support for women choosing to breastfeed in public. Three strands of research contribute to the process of achieving the overall aim; (1) understanding FeedFinder, its users and the data it provides, (2) investigating if FeedFinder is a useful tool to professionals and voluntary groups who promote and support breastfeeding and (3) design and evaluation of a new geoanalytics website for support of breastfeeding which includes a community breastfeeding policy to offer practical guidance to public-facing organisations seeking to improve provision and support for breastfeeding women. The research followed a mixed methods and action research approach, being driven by the needs and values of the multiple stakeholders involved; parents, public health improvement practitioners, infant feeding coordinators, breastfeeding peer support workers and local public-facing organisations. Following the completion of strand 2 of the research, it was clear that FeedFinder was useful for parents but the process to access the data for breastfeeding support or local public-facing organisations to use was not efficient. This led to the iterative design and development of the FeedFinder website, community breastfeeding policy, poster and video followed by an evaluation with stakeholders (strand 3). The newly developed FeedFinder website and community breastfeeding policy have shown promising potential to provide a tool for local communities to do more to support breastfeeding. The expert evaluation revealed that breastfeeding support services welcome the website in practice, though some concerns persisted on trust and legitimacy of data therein. This thesis describes the way in which citizen-generated data can be utilised in public health provision while outlining the key limitations and concluding with recommendations for sectors with potential to impact on improving the breastfeeding rates across the UK and so meeting recommendations for optimum infant feeding.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:Population Health Sciences Institute

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