The development and validation of an instrument measuring psychological need satisfaction of lactation



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Basic psychological need satisfaction is a widely studied phenomenon within the field of psychology that was not examined in the context of lactation prior to this research. Derived from Self-Determination Theory, the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are theorized to result in well-being and functioning when the needs are met. In the United States, breastfeeding rates are below Healthy People 2030 targets. Therefore, a goal of this research was to test the premise that satisfying the needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness could improve postpartum well-being and breastfeeding outcomes. To accomplish this, it is necessary to be able to objectively measure the phenomenon of psychological need satisfaction in the context of lactation. Given that no such measure exists in the literature, the purpose of this study was to develop and validate the Lactation Psychological Needs Scale. The instrument was designed based on a review of literature, content validity testing, and pilot testing in the intended population. The validity of the instrument was established through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses in separate samples. Both factor analyses yielded a three-factor solution aligned with the three basic psychological needs enumerated in Self-Determination Theory: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. After modification, the confirmatory analysis supported goodness-of-fit of the final 12-item instrument. The instrument and each subscale demonstrated appropriate internal consistency reliability and were related to concurrently measured variables in the expected directions, supporting the construct validity of the instrument. The Lactation Psychological Needs Scale appears preliminarily valid and reliable and supports the theoretical premises tested. Self-Determination Theory offers a new explanation for understanding lactation outcomes and postpartum well-being, which can be further explored through subsequent uses of this novel instrument.



Lactation, Nursing, Psychology