An Examination of Large Employer Workplace Lactation Support: Organizational Support and Employee Perceptions

Colleen Anne Payton, Thomas Jefferson University


Background: Breastfeeding has many health benefits for the child, mother, family, and community. However, breastfeeding duration rates are below the Healthy People 2020 goal, and returning to work is a major barrier. Employers have flexibility in how they adhere to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act space and time accommodations for pumping employees. Purpose: To examine the organizational climate for workplace lactation support in the Greater Philadelphia and the Greater Pittsburgh regions from the perspectives of employers, employees and workplace lactation experts. Methods: A mixed methods design included both quantitative and qualitative data collection. Aim1: A cross-sectional survey design evaluated employer workplace lactation support. Aim 2: A cross sectional survey design evaluated employee perceptions of workplace lactation support. Aim 3a: Qualitative interviews explored the social-cognitive influences of breastfeeding duration. Aim 3b: Qualitative interviews explored workplace lactation experts’ perceptions of challenges and solutions for complying with Affordable Care Act requirements for breastfeeding employees. Results: Aim 1: On a scale of 1 to 22, the mean total employer workplace lactation support score was 15.26 (SD = 2.09). Aim 2: On a scale from 41 to 156, the mean total employee perception of workplace lactation support score was 117.31 (SD = 19.08). Aim 3a: Interviews with employees illustrated self-efficacy, reliable lactation spaces, and specific breastfeeding intentions as the most influential factors for employees to reach their breastfeeding goals. Aim 3b: Interviews with workplace lactation experts suggested enhancements to a nationally recognized toolkit for employers, which focused on targeted training to address workplace culture to normalize lactation accommodations. Conclusions: Employers, employees, and workplace lactation experts reported high workplace lactation support with some improvement areas. Employers can use the results to identify priority areas and continue evaluation in efforts to improve workplace lactation support.

Subject Area

Health sciences|Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Payton, Colleen Anne, "An Examination of Large Employer Workplace Lactation Support: Organizational Support and Employee Perceptions" (2018). ETD Collection for Thomas Jefferson University. AAI10846016.