Effects of Peer Counseling to Support Breastfeeding: Assessing the External Validity of a Randomized Field Experiment

41 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2015

See all articles by Onur Altindag

Onur Altindag

Bentley University; Economic Research Forum

Theodore Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Julie Reeder

Oregon WIC Program

Date Written: March 2015

Abstract

In an effort to improve breastfeeding, the Oregon WIC Program tested whether a relatively low-cost telephone peer counseling initiative to support breastfeeding could increase the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding among its participants. They conducted a large randomized field experiment (RFE) with over 1900 women from four WIC agencies in the state. In this study we use data from the RFE along with administrative data from the rest of the state to assess whether the results from the RFE can be extended to other agencies in the state. We find small or non-existent effects of peer counseling in the non-experimental settings, which suggest that the experimental estimates may reflect Hawthorne effects. We present evidence of selection into RFE in that exclusive breastfeeding among the controls is significantly greater than among women who were offered but declined to participate in the RFE as well as from women in the rest of the state who had no access to peer counseling. We conclude that despite the strong internal validity of the RFE, extending the program to other agencies in the state would have a limited impact at best on exclusive breastfeeding.

Suggested Citation

Altindag, Onur and Joyce, Theodore J. and Reeder, Julie, Effects of Peer Counseling to Support Breastfeeding: Assessing the External Validity of a Randomized Field Experiment (March 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2578841

Onur Altindag (Contact Author)

Bentley University

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Economic Research Forum ( email )

Cairo
Egypt

Theodore J. Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Julie Reeder

Oregon WIC Program ( email )

800 NE Oregon Street Suite 865
Portland, OR 97232-2187
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
12
Abstract Views
389
PlumX Metrics