This paper aims to introduce a method for mapping local service provision to local demographic and health outcome data, to inform evidence-based policy and practice in public health. A mapping exercise was conducted in London, England with the aims of: (1) describing services provided for breastfeeding women in primary and tertiary health care sectors and government, voluntary and private sectors; and (2) linking this information with routine data on deprivation, breastfeeding rates and health outcomes. Quantitative data on local breastfeeding services were collected via an online questionnaire by a designated 'mapping lead' in each locality. Data were collected at the level of individual health care organisations on the provision, nature and management of breastfeeding services, and related organisational inputs such as leadership, staffing, accreditation and policy. Demographic and health outcome data were identified from existing routine national data collections. Ninety-one per cent of eligible acute and primary care organisations participated in the mapping exercise. A range of mapping tools and profile were developed and launched in 2009 (http://atlas.chimat.org.uk/IAS/dataviews/view?viewId=66). These tools can be used for descriptive analyses of service provision on the basis of local need. Comparative analyses on the impact of service provision on breastfeeding or health outcomes will be feasible from 18 months of data collection onwards. This case study has demonstrated the potential utility of this mapping method to inform effective implementation and evaluation of public health policy in practice consistent with the World Health Organisation framework. Formal evaluation of the utility of the tools is recommended.
- Breastfeeding health outcomes
- Evidence-based practice
- Infant feeding
- Public health