Background: The impact of excess gestational weight gain (GWG) on maternal and child health outcomes is well documented. Understanding how health care providers view and manage GWG may assist with influencing healthy gestational weight outcomes. This study aimed to assess General Practitioner's (GPs) perspectives regarding the management and assessment of GWG and to understand how GPs can be best supported to provide healthy GWG advice to pregnant women.
Methods: Descriptive qualitative research methods utilising semi - structured interview questions to assess GPs perspectives and management of GWG. GPs participating in shared antenatal care in Geelong, Victoria and Sydney, New South Wales were invited to participate in semi - structured, individual interviews via telephone or in person. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed utilising thematic analysis for common emerging themes.
Results: Twenty eight GPs participated, 14 from each state. Common themes emerged relating to awareness of the implications of excess GWG, advice regarding weight gain, regularity of gestational weighing by GPs, options for GPs to seek support to provide healthy lifestyle behaviour advice and barriers to engaging pregnant women about their weight. GPs perspectives concerning excess GWG were varied. They frequently acknowledged maternal and child health complications resulting from excess GWG yet weighing practices and GWG advice appeared to be inconsistent. The preferred support option to promote healthy weight was referral to allied health practitioners yet GPs noted that cost and limited access were barriers to achieving this.
Conclusions: GPs were aware of the importance of healthy GWG yet routine weighing was not standard practice for diverse reasons. Management of GWG and perspectives of the issue varied widely. Time efficient and cost effective interventions may assist GPs in ensuring women are supported in achieving healthy GWG to provide optimal maternal and infant health outcomes.