Blending Qualitative, Quantitative, and Rhetorical Methods to Engage Citizens in Public Deliberation to Improve Workplace Breastfeeding Support


To improve breastfeeding support in local businesses in Brookings, SD, researchers from South Dakota State University partnered with Brookings Health System, the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce, local breastfeeding advocates, and an expert public deliberation moderator to conduct community-based participatory research leading to a public deliberation event. The collaborative team took a mixed-methods approach, using qualitative, quantitative, and rhetorical methods to collect and analyze data across two phases of the project: formative research (Phase I) and implementation (Phase II). During Phase I, the team conducted focus groups and marketed the project. Results from Phase I shaped the conversations at the public deliberation event in Phase II. At the event, community members deliberated about the issue of breastfeeding support in Brookings businesses, and they identified action steps. Following that event, the community members delegated actions and the collaborative team disseminated results from the project. This case study emphasizes the collaborative nature of community-based participatory research and the importance of clear communication throughout the process. In each stage of the project, every team member was meaningfully involved with the research process and had ownership of the products we produced. This level of collaboration was made possible through clear communication between team members that came from very different backgrounds, for example, education, health, or business. Team members respectfully listened to each other’s diverse perspectives and provided unique expertise; the team then modeled those same communication skills with the community as it sought community input and led a public deliberation event.

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