Social and economic influences on infant and child feeding practices in a Marshallese community

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community-based research, Marshallese, Pacific Islander, child feeding influcences



The present study aimed to examine the key influences on infant and child feeding practices among a Marshallese community at each social ecological level. It is the first study to examine the key influences on infant and child feeding practices with Marshallese immigrant women in the USA and helps fill a gap in the previous literature that has included other immigrant women.


Community-based participatory research design with twenty-seven participants taking part in four qualitative focus groups.


The study took place within the Marshallese community in Arkansas, USA.


Participants included Marshallese women with children aged 1–3 years and/or caregivers. Caregivers were defined as someone other than the parent who cares for children. Caregivers were often older women in the Marshallese community.


There were five primary themes within multiple levels of the Social Ecological Model. At the intrapersonal level, mothers’ and caregivers’ autonomy emerged. At the interpersonal level, child-led and familial influences emerged. At the organizational level, health-care provider influences emerged; and at the policy level, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children emerged as the most salient influence.


Marshallese immigrant women’s infant and child feeding practices are influenced at intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational and policy levels. Understanding these multidimensional influences is necessary to inform the creation of culturally tailored interventions to reduce health disparities within the Marshallese community.