Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final. 

What is the research about? 

Breastfeeding can improve infant health and reduce the risk of illness. It can also reduce the risk for heart disease and ovarian and breast cancer for the breastfeeding parent. But some parents face barriers to breastfeeding that keep them from breastfeeding, decrease the length of time they breastfeed, or reduce the amount of breast milk that is part of the baby’s diet. 

Breastfeeding peer counseling, or BPC, provides support and education to help parents breastfeed. Providing BPC in a clinical setting, or ci-BPC, can help reach pregnant people early, during pregnancy care. In this study, the research team is looking to see how well ci-BPC helps parents breastfeed compared with standard breastfeeding support. 

Who can this research help? 

Results may help clinic and hospital staff when considering ways to support parents in breastfeeding. 

What is the research team doing? 

The research team is enrolling 720 pregnant people from two hospitals in the Chicago area. The team is assigning people by chance to one of two groups. In the first group, people receive standard breastfeeding support from registered nurses, or RNs. This support starts after birth and includes help with starting to breastfeed and with using a breast pump. RNs also address any questions or concerns about breastfeeding. 

In the second group, people receive standard breastfeeding support plus ci-BPC. Ci-BPC includes at least four sessions, which take place online, by phone, or in person. Sessions start between 20 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. But at least two of the four sessions take place after people have given birth. During ci-BPC sessions, peer counselors help parents set goals for breastfeeding and plan how to meet these goals. The peer counselors are community health workers who have breastfed an infant and received training in breastfeeding support. Parents also have access to a support line they can use to call a peer counselor and ask questions. 

The research team is surveying people during pregnancy and six weeks and six months after giving birth to learn:

  • How long they breastfed
  • Their knowledge of breastfeeding
  • How infants responded to breastfeeding

Community organizations, peer counselors, patients, and maternal healthcare providers are helping to plan and conduct this study. 

Research methods at a glance

Design ElementDescription
DesignRandomized controlled trial
Population720 pregnant people ages 18-45
  • Standard breastfeeding support
  • Standard breastfeeding support plus ci-BPC

Primary: breastfeeding duration

Secondary: percentage of infant feedings in the hospital that are breast milk only, proportion of infant feedings post-discharge that are breast milk only, breastfeeding knowledge, infant feeding attitude

Timeframe  Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 6-month postpartum follow-up for primary outcome 

*Patient-Centered Economic Outcomes Funding Supplement 
This study received supplemental funding to build on existing PCORI-funded comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies to improve the understanding of appropriate costs and other economic burdens that are meaningful and inclusive to patients, caregivers and other stakeholders.

Project Information

Ann Borders, MD, MPH, MS
NorthShore University HealthSystem
Clinically Integrated Breastfeeding Peer Counseling to Promote Breastfeeding Equity

Key Dates

July 2021
February 2028

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: April 12, 2024