Efficacy of the theory of planned behavior in predicting breastfeeding: Meta-analysis and structural equation modeling

J. L. Guo, T. F. Wang, J. Y. Liao, C. M. Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

69 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study assessed the applicability and efficacy of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) in predicting breastfeeding. Background: The TPB assumes a rational approach for engaging in various behaviors, and has been used extensively for explaining health behavior. However, most studies have tested the effectiveness of TPB constructs in predicting how people perform actions for their own benefit rather than performing behaviors that are beneficial to others, such as breastfeeding infants. A meta-analysis approach could help clarify the breastfeeding practice to promote breastfeeding. Methods: This study used meta-analytic procedures. We searched for studies to include in our analysis, examining those published between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2013 in PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, ProQuest, and Mosby's Index. We also reviewed journals with a history of publishing breastfeeding studies and searched reference lists for potential articles to include. Results: Ten studies comprising a total of 2694 participants were selected for analysis. These studies yielded 10 effect sizes from the TPB, which ranged from 0.20 to 0.59. Structural equation model analysis using the pooled correlation matrix enabled us to determine the relative coefficients among TPB constructs. Attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control were all significant predictors of breastfeeding intention, whereas intention was a strong predictor of breastfeeding behavior. Perceived behavioral control reached a borderline level of significance to breastfeeding behavior. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed from the perspective of evidence-based practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Nursing Research
StatePublished - 01 02 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Breastfeeding
  • Meta-analysis
  • Structural equation modeling (SEM)
  • Theory of planned behavior (TPB)


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