Adaptation of a clinical reasoning model for use in inflammatory conditions of the lactating breast: a retrospective mixed-methods study

Emma Heron, Adelle McArdle, Melinda Cooper, Donna Geddes, Leanda McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many potential factors associated with Inflammatory Conditions of the Lactating Breast (ICLB) have been reported in the literature, by lactating mothers and clinicians. Clinicians, including general practitioners, lactation consultants and physiotherapists, require a clinical reasoning model that summarises associated or linked factors, to aid in the assessment, treatment, and prevention of ICLB. Thus, we aimed to adapt the existing Breastfeeding Pain Reasoning Model (BPRM), for use in the management of ICLB, using prior research and clinical audit data to guide adaptation. The existing BPRM categorises contributing factors for breastfeeding nipple pain, rather than ICLB.Methods: Factors linked with ICLB were identified from prior research and considered for inclusion into the existing model. Clinical data from a retrospective audit of ICLB patient notes at a private physiotherapy practice were also examined. Any factors identified from prior research that could not be identified in the clinical notes were not considered for inclusion into the existing model. Additional factors from the clinical notes that appeared repeatedly were considered for inclusion into the adaptation of the BPRM. A draft adapted model was created comprising all eligible factors, considering their counts and percentages as calculated from the clinical data. The research team iteratively examined all factors for appropriate categorisation and modification within the adapted model.Results: Prior research and data from 160 clinical notes were used to identify factors for inclusion in the adapted model. A total of 57 factors, 13 pre-existing in the BPRM and 44 extra identified from the prior research or clinical audit, comprised the draft adapted model. Factor consolidation and terminology modification resulted in a total of 34 factors in the final proposed adapted ICLB model. The three main categories, CNS modulation, External influences and Local stimulation, from the existing model were maintained, with one minor terminology change to the former Local stimulation category, resulting in 'Local influences' category. Terminology for five subcategories were modified to better reflect the types of factors for ICLB. The most common factors in the adapted model, calculated from the clinical audit population of mothers with ICLB, were employment (85%), high socioeconomic status (81%), antibiotic use during breastfeeding (61%), history of an ICLB (56%), any breast pump use (45%), multiparity (43%), birth interventions (35%), decreased milk transfer (33%), breastfeeding behaviour and practices (33%), nipple pain (30%) and fit and hold (attachment and positioning) difficulty (28%).Conclusion: An ICLB-specific linked factors model is proposed in this paper. Clinicians treating mothers with ICLB can use this model to identify influencing and determining factors of ICLB clinical presentations and provide targeted education and effective treatment plans.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13627
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2022


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