Gestational diabetes mellitus follow-up in Norwegian primary health care: a qualitative study

BJGP Open. 2022 Mar 22;6(1):BJGPO.2021.0104. doi: 10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0104. Print 2022 Mar.


Background: Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have a tenfold increased risk of developing diabetes, and a high risk of recurrent GDM. Endorsing the life-course approach, aiming to prevent disease and promote health across generations, the Norwegian GDM guideline recommends follow-up in primary care after delivery, with information on the increased risks, lifestyle counselling, and annual diabetes screening. Few reports exist on Norwegian women's experiences of GDM follow-up.

Aim: To elucidate women's experiences with follow-up of GDM in pregnancy and after delivery, and to explore their attitudes to diabetes risk and motivation for lifestyle changes.

Design & setting: Qualitative study in primary care in the region of Stavanger, Norway.

Method: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted 24-30 months after delivery with 14 women aged 28-44 years, with a history of GDM. Data were analysed thematically.

Results: Most women were satisfied with the follow-up during pregnancy; however, only two women were followed-up according to the guideline after delivery. In most encounters with GPs after delivery, GDM was not mentioned. To continue the healthy lifestyle adopted in pregnancy, awareness of future risk was a motivational factor, and the women asked for tailored information on individual risk and improved support. The main themes emerging from the analysis were as follows: stigma and shame; uncertainty; gaining control and finding balance; and a need for support to sustain change.

Conclusion: Women experienced a lack of support for GDM in Norwegian primary care after delivery. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, women suggested being given tailored information and improved support.

Keywords: diabetes, gestational; general practice; health promotion; primary health care; qualitative research.