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Factors influencing lifestyle behaviours during and after a gestational diabetes mellitus pregnancy

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  • University Hospital Limerick, Ireland

Abstract

Objective: This qualitative study examined the healthy lifestyle behaviours undertaken during and after a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and the factors that influenced the likelihood of undertaking of such behaviours. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with women who had a pregnancy complicated by GDM in the previous 3–7 years. Interviews were analysed using a theoretical thematic analysis approach. Results: Thirteen women provided interviews as part of this study. Women typically engaged in healthy behaviours in terms of diet, physical activity and glucose monitoring during their GDM pregnancy, but generally these behaviours were not maintained postpartum. Women appear not to be intrinsically motivated to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviours, but rather require the support of an extrinsic motivator such as their unborn child or the support of healthcare professionals. A gap exists between women's knowledge of their increased long-term diabetes risk and the behaviours which they undertake to reduce this risk in the postpartum period. Conclusion: Women with previous GDM need increased support in the postpartum period to assist them to develop self-management and prioritisation skills to take control of their increased type 2 diabetes mellitus risk.
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Factors influencing lifestyle behaviours during and
after a gestational diabetes mellitus pregnancy
Marie Tierney, Angela O'Dea, Andriy Danyliv, Eoin Noctor, Brian McGuire,
Liam Glynn, Huda Al-Imari & Fidelma Dunne
To cite this article: Marie Tierney, Angela O'Dea, Andriy Danyliv, Eoin Noctor, Brian McGuire,
Liam Glynn, Huda Al-Imari & Fidelma Dunne (2015) Factors influencing lifestyle behaviours
during and after a gestational diabetes mellitus pregnancy, Health Psychology and Behavioral
Medicine, 3:1, 204-216, DOI: 10.1080/21642850.2015.1073111
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21642850.2015.1073111
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor &
Francis.
Published online: 05 Aug 2015.
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Factors inuencing lifestyle behaviours during and after a gestational
diabetes mellitus pregnancy
Marie Tierney
a
*, Angela ODea
a
, Andriy Danyliv
b
, Eoin Noctor
a
, Brian McGuire
c
,
Liam Glynn
d
, Huda Al-Imari
a
and Fidelma Dunne
a
a
School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland;
b
School of Business and Economics,
National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland;
c
School of Psychology, National University of Ireland,
Galway, Ireland;
d
Discipline of General Practice, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
(Received 27 April 2015; accepted 12 July 2015)
Objective: This qualitative study examined the healthy lifestyle behaviours undertaken during and after a
pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and the factors that inuenced the
likelihood of undertaking of such behaviours. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were
conducted with women who had a pregnancy complicated by GDM in the previous 37 years. Interviews
were analysed using a theoretical thematic analysis approach. Results: Thirteen women provided
interviews as part of this study. Women typically engaged in healthy behaviours in terms of diet, physical
activity and glucose monitoring during their GDM pregnancy, but generally these behaviours were not
maintained postpartum. Women appear not to be intrinsically motivated to engage in healthy lifestyle
behaviours, but rather require the support of an extrinsic motivator such as their unborn child or the
support of healthcare professionals. A gap exists between womens knowledge of their increased long-
term diabetes risk and the behaviours which they undertake to reduce this risk in the postpartum period.
Conclusion: Women with previous GDM need increased support in the postpartum period to assist them
to develop self-management and prioritisation skills to take control of their increased type 2 diabetes
mellitus risk.
Keywords: gestational diabetes; lifestyle; behaviours; qualitative; women
Introduction
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is dened by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as
diabetes diagnosed in the second or third trimester of pregnancy that is not clearly overt dia-
betes(American Diabetes Association, 2015, S13). It is associated both with adverse conse-
quences for maternal and foetal health, including macrosomia, increased risk of caesarean
section and increased neonatal unit admission (Catalano et al., 2012; Langer, Yogev, Most, &
Xenakis, 2005; Schmidt et al., 2001), and an increased long-term risk for the development of
pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes mellitus (Catalano et al., 2012; Kim, Newton, & Knopp, 2002).
GDM prevalence has recently been reported as 26% in Europe (Buckley et al., 2012),
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.
*Corresponding author. Email: marie.m.tierney@nuigalway.ie
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 2015
Vol. 3, No. 1, 204216, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21642850.2015.1073111
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9.325.5% internationally (Sacks et al., 2012) and 12.4% in Ireland (OSullivan et al., 2011). In
the Irish population, 28.4% of women with a history of GDM have been diagnosed with pre-dia-
betes or diabetes one to ve years after the index pregnancy (Crowe et al., 2012). Thus, it is
evident that GDM and its resultant long-term consequences have a prominent impact upon the
health of those many women affected.
In at-risk individuals, type 2 diabetes mellitus may be delayed or prevented by healthy life-
style behaviours focusing on weight management through diet and exercise (Bazzano, Serdula,
& Liu, 2005; Hu, 2011). Accordingly, women in Ireland diagnosed with GDM are routinely
advised to change their lifestyle behaviours both during and after the pregnancy. However, evi-
dence shows that lifestyle change is not being implemented appropriately by women post a
GDM pregnancy despite receiving such advice and information. This is evidenced by a review
conducted by Jones, Roche, and Appel (2009), which showed that women with previous
GDM are more likely to be overweight or obese, are less likely to meet the ADA recommen-
dations of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and three resistance exercise sessions weekly, and
are less likely to have adequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, a review con-
ducted by Kaiser and Razurel (2013) conrmed that there is low compliance with the health beha-
viours recommended for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the period after GDM.
Despite some work already conducted in the area (Jones et al., 2009), it has been recommended
that further research is conducted to further identify factors that inuence the health behaviours of
women with previous GDM, to assist in understanding why healthy lifestyle behaviours are not
implemented in this at-risk group Jones et al. (2009).
With this in mind, the aim of this study is to qualitatively assess the healthy lifestyle beha-
viours (e.g. diet, physical activity and glucose monitoring) which were undertaken by a group
of women both during and after their GDM pregnancy and to gain an understanding of the
factors that inuenced the undertaking of such behaviours. It is anticipated that identication
of these factors will assist in informing the development of future intervention strategies aimed
at reducing the number of women developing type 2 diabetes mellitus post GDM.
Methods
This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by
the ethics committee of the Galway University Hospitals. Participants were recruited from a larger
sample of women who had tested positive for GDM on a 2 h, 75 g oral glucose tolerance test at
between 24 and 28 weeks gestation between 2006 and 2010 as part of the ATLANTIC DIP col-
laborative study and were followed up to determine the prevalence of persistent postpartum
glucose dysfunction (Noctor et al., 2012). These participants were recruited from ve hospital
sites located along the Irish Atlantic seaboard. Details regarding the methods by which the
initial GDM screen and follow-up screen were conducted are described elsewhere (Noctor
et al., 2012). Consent to hold data on a database for future research was established with 73
women during the original Noctor et al. (2012) study. Inclusion criteria for this study consisted
of: (a) participation in the previously mentioned Noctor et al. (2012) study, (b) previous GDM
diagnosis and c) sufcient understanding of the English language to enable provision of informed
consent and participate in the interview. An information letter outlining the purpose and structure
of the research study was sent to 25 randomly selected women of those 73 who had provided
consent to be contacted. Of these 25 women, 3 did not provide consent to interview, 5 could
not be contacted by telephone, 3 reported that they were not aware of a previous diagnosis of
GDM or felt they did not sufciently remember their GDM period and 1 woman did not have
sufcient English communication skills to participate. Thus, 13 women participated in this
study, and each provided written informed consent prior to interview.
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A semi-structured interview guide was utilised using primarily open-ended questions, to
elicit as much information on the womens experiences as possible. A conversational style of
interviewing was adopted to encourage a comfortable and uent dialogue which was rich in
detail, while using an interview schedule as a reference to ensure that all key topics were
covered. The research questions covered lifestyle and care in the pregnancy and postpartum
periods, specically the type of advice received, perceptions of the advice and the challenges
of engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviours. Questions were devised based on previous gaps
in the literature identied. The rst author (who is both a health professional and postdoctoral
researcher, but was uninvolved in the care of the women) performed all the interviews via tele-
phone, at a time of the participants choosing. Telephone interviews are deemed to be productive
in qualitative research (Sturges & Hanrahan, 2004) and were utilised in this study as it allowed
superior access to this population, which has been deemed hard to reach (Opdenakker, 2006).
Interviews lasted between 25 and 40 minutes. Women were recruited into the study until theor-
etical saturation was achieved, as evidenced by data replication occurring and no new insights or
themes being identied.
The interviews were audio-taped with the permission of each participant, using a digital
recorder. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using theoretical thematic analysis
with a semantic approach as outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006). Thematic analysis is a par-
ticular type of qualitative analysis which focuses on recognising, analysing and reporting pat-
terns (themes) within a qualitative data set. It is most similar to discursive analysis;
however, unlike many other forms of qualitative analysis, it is not related to a specic theory
or epistemology and thus gives considerably more exibility to the researcher. The use of theor-
etical thematic analysis allowed for the analysis to be driven by our clinical and theoretical inter-
ests in understanding healthy lifestyle behaviours during and after pregnancy complicated by
GDM. More specically, the goals were to describe the healthy lifestyle behaviours of
women during and post GDM, and to develop a better understanding of the factors which inu-
enced these behaviours in order to guide the development of future interventions. A semantic
approach, focusing on the explicit meaning of the data, was chosen. This approach extends
beyond a description of the themes to an interpretation of the signicance and implications of
the themes identied.
Transcripts were reviewed independently by two of the authors (M. T. and A. O. D) who
followed the phases outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006). Phase one involved familiarisation
with the data, reading and re-reading of the transcripts and noting of initial ideas. Phase two
involved generating initial codes in a systematic fashion across the entire data set. Phase three
involved collating the codes into potential themes. Phase four involved reviewing of the
themes and ensuring that they are relevant in relation to both the coded extracts and the entire
data set. Phase ve involved rening the themes to ensure that they provide a clear reection
of the overall story portrayed in the data set. Both authors met regularly to identify common
themes and discuss areas of agreement and divergence.
Results
Thirteen women with a GDM diagnosis in the previous 3.66.6 years participated in this study.
The participants had a mean age of 41.2 years (range 31.249.6) at the time of interview.
Four themes were identied through these in-depth interviews. These themes centred on
the type of lifestyle-related behaviours that women undertook during and post a GDM preg-
nancy as well as the factors that facilitate and hinder these types of lifestyle behaviours.
The need for extrinsically driven motivation is evident throughout each of the themes as
206 M. Tierney et al.
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well as a lack of skills related to self-management of health and prioritisation of ones own
health needs.
Theme one: motivators, barriers and facilitators of a healthy lifestyle
Motivators
The primary motivation for lifestyle modication during pregnancy was for the health of their
unborn baby, while maternal health during the pregnancy was rated as a secondary motivation.
I thought that I had to make the changes for the benet of my child rst of all and then for myself.
A number of women (n= 5) also reported that managing their GDM through lifestyle change
alone, without the need for insulin during the pregnancy, was a motivating factor for lifestyle
change during the pregnancy. One woman reported:
I had to make the changes for the benet of my child rst of all. And then for myself [I wanted to] try
to manage the diabetes if I could by exercise and diet .I did not want to go on insulin.
Worry about the future development of diabetes mellitus was generally not a major motivation
towards lifestyle change in the antenatal period with one woman saying:
I wasnt really worried about the [risk of] lifelong diabetes.
Barriers
Women reported a number of barriers in the postpartum period which they felt impacted on their
ability to undertake a healthy lifestyle. Most revolved around ability to exercise, however, a
number involved diet also.
Environmental factors such as weather and nance were reported by women as limiting
factors to a healthy lifestyle. This is illustrated by quotes such as:
oh thats the weather I tell you .when its raining outside [I dont exercise]
from one woman while another reported:
I know nancially it can be a problem [to eat healthily] because its usually more expensive. I always
notice the special offers they have in supermarkets are always on the convenience foods items, never
on the healthy foods.
Time-related factors such as a busy lifestyle were also cited as barriers to a healthy lifestyle
with one women reporting:
I think time has a lot to do with it. Its just time to get organised.
Family-related factors such as prioritising others in the family were also reported as barriers.
This prioritisation was described by one woman as:
Im busy at work and then collecting them [children], Im rushing around. You tend to put yourself
down the pile a bit, you know .everything else comes rst really I suppose.
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Facilitators
In identifying factors that facilitated a healthier lifestyle, a number of reasons were revealed.
Having children who were older and having support from others were among the factors seen
as helpful in undertaking a healthy lifestyle. One woman reported:
because my youngest one has started crèche it gives me a bit of time in the morning to do my walk
highlighting how older children can facilitate a healthier lifestyle. Having support for living
healthily was indicated by one woman reporting:
theyre [family] always saying make sure youre eating healthy and dont be eating trash .they
would be very good like that.
Many women expressed suggestions for what would help them engage in health lifestyle
behaviours necessary to attempt to modify their high type 2 diabetes risk. They have a strong
desire for increased levels of postpartum advice and more regular follow-up, including screening,
which they felt would act as a motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle. One participant indicated that:
you should be called back maybe in two years or three years just to go through it again, just to see that
if there was an increase in the [blood sugar] reading
as she felt that this would be particularly helpful.
Education was felt to be fundamental to the facilitation of a healthy lifestyle into the long
term, as highlighted by one woman revealing:
I think education on diabetes [is important], denitely, and risks of it in years to come
with another participant outlining:
I suppose practical menus and as regards the exercise, maybe pointers as to what you can do
Women suggested group meetings and/or support meetings, which continued for many years
after the GDM pregnancy as another potential facilitator of a healthy lifestyle postpartum with a
participant saying:
group meetings and things like that would help. Because if you are going and chatting to somebody
you are going to get motivated [to live in a healthier manner].
Lifestyle intervention programmes were felt to be a signicant facilitator of a healthy lifestyle
postpartum. It was suggested that online delivery was a more appropriate means of offering such
support in order to overcome the time and availability constraints that women experienced. One
women said:
sometimes if you couldnt get out and if there was something online [instead]
to highlight this point.
Some women also noted that receiving regular communication in the form of emails or letters
would serve to trigger them into action and would be helpful in facilitating them to live a healthy
lifestyle highlighted by the quote:
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I think that the letters [results of tests] that you sent me, that triggers me .Its like a real kick in the
bum.
Theme two: ability to live a healthy lifestyle
All of the women reported engaging in a healthy lifestyle, in terms of their dietary and physical
activity behaviours during their GDM pregnancy. Both diet and, where not contraindicated, exer-
cise levels improved signicantly in this period.
The Health Service Executive in Ireland recommends monitoring carbohydrate intake and
ensuring healthy carbohydrate choices are made, and regular physical activity for the manage-
ment of GDM (Health Service Executive, 2010).
Dietary and exercise advice designed to help the GDM women in this study to manage their
glucose function and prevent complications was reported to have been provided mainly by
nursing staff in the diabetes clinics throughout the antenatal period. The information was well
received with all women reporting that they implemented all the advice diligently, despite the dif-
culties associated with making radical lifestyle changes. Participants reported:
the nutritional advice they had given [to] me, I did stick to it. I did take it on board, denitely
and
whatever advice was given, I was going to take it on board and [I said] Im actually going to do
everything.
A small number (n= 4) of the women reported that they were trying to live a healthy lifestyle,
or it had improved since their GDM pregnancy saying:
Ive lost a good bit of weight Id be eating much more regularly .I wouldnt be as stressed and I
get more exercise.
However, despite their ability to undertake a healthy lifestyle in the antenatal period, women
typically did not manage to maintain the changes in the postpartum period with one participant
saying:
I probably have slid back to my usual ways.
The predominant response (n= 12) was that they had become complacent about their lifestyle
since the GDM pregnancy. Many wished that they had kept up a healthy lifestyle but reported
having returned to old ways in the years since their GDM pregnancy with one participant describ-
ing this by saying:
I was grand [good] for the rst few months but then I went to the way side [off track], I just went back
to my usual thing, I stopped walking and started eating rubbish [food] that I shouldnt have.
Theme three: satisfaction with care
The womens interactions with staff at the GDM clinic, particularly with nursing staff, appeared to
be an important component of their satisfaction with their care. Nurses were seen as the source of
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most of the information and support that the women required to manage their condition indicated
by the response:
the diabetic nurses probably wouldve been the main people that give advice.
Furthermore, it was felt that support was available at any time through a nurse-led telephone
service and this facility appealed to these women, which was highlighted by one of the partici-
pants reporting:
if I had any queries at any time I know I could have rang, there was always someone to ring and I was
told that at the time.
Referral to a dietician or nutritionist was believed to be a particularly helpful component of the
GDM management as they focused attention on diet and provided a dietary programme for the
women with a participant reporting:
I met with a nutritionist or a dietician .she provided better guidance [on] what food to eat, what food
to limit.
Furthermore, women felt secure that their GDM was being managed well due to the close,
intense monitoring they received at the time of their GDM. This close, intense monitoring is illus-
trated by responses such as:
they keep a really close eye. Towards the end, they would see me nearly every week. So [they were]
really keeping an eye on me
and
I had to record seven readings a day on a sheet. [Diabetes Nurse] would ring every week to get the
readings. It kept you on the ball I think if you didnt have that youd be kind of lackadaisical.
Conversely, in the postpartum period, women felt isolated and missed the close and intense
support and monitoring by others which they had become accustomed to during pregnancy.
The majority of women reported dissatisfaction with the care provided to them in the postpartum
period. This dissatisfaction was highlighted by women reporting:
once I nished the pregnancy . [I] was left in the middle of the whole thing,
nothing happened. I [felt] like I was dropped from the top of a roof. Nothing happened. It was like I
did not even exist
and
my main area [of dissatisfaction] would have been post [pregnancy]. I wouldve thought more could
have been done [after] having your baby.
Most (n= 12) reported not being provided with any further structured diabetes care, except for
a postpartum glucose screen, once the GDM pregnancy had ended, despite having been warned of
their risk of developing diabetes mellitus in the future. These women no longer attended the dia-
betes clinic which would have been central to their care during pregnancy and were transferred
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back to their primary care physician after the GDM pregnancy. Some women found their GP to be
a good source of support and advice on their increased diabetes risk as highlighted by one women
reporting:
he [GP] does [give diabetes advice], hes brilliant .hes fantastic that way.
However, the predominant response was that GPs were not particularly responsive to these
women to assist them to manage their diabetes risk with one woman reporting:
they [GPs] dont seem to have expertise in that particular eld
while another outlined:
there was no after care not even the GP, nothing. There was no collaboration.
Theme four: risk awareness and acknowledgement
All of the interviewed women were aware of their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
mellitus because of their GDM history reporting:
they did advise about .the fact that you could develop diabetes in later years.
However, despite having knowledge of this increased risk, women believed that this risk was
not imminent, and thus it did not motivate them to take immediate action to remedy the risk with
one woman describing this as:
its the fact that I dont have it at the moment .that I know I havent got it at this moment [means]
Im a bit more lackadaisical about it.
Discussion
This qualitative study explored Irish womens experiences and perspectives regarding the factors
which inuenced healthy lifestyle behaviours both during and after a GDM pregnancy.
During the GDM pregnancy, women interviewed as part of this study reported diligently
implementing the advice regarding healthy lifestyle that was proposed to them. This high rate
of implementation of lifestyle advice during pregnancy has previously been reported (Doran,
2008; Evans & OBrien, 2005) as have the factors motivating implementation, namely avoidance
of insulin therapy (Carolan, Gill, & Steele, 2012; Doran, 2008) and maximising foetal health
(Bandyopadhyay et al., 2011; Carolan et al., 2012; Evans & OBrien, 2005). However, in the
longer term, women found it difcult to maintain positive lifestyle behaviours in the postpartum
period. As previously outlined, this drop-off in health-enhancing behaviour is evident elsewhere,
with reviews conducted by Jones et al. (2009) and Kaiser and Razurel (2013) reporting subopti-
mal healthy lifestyle behaviours in this population during postpartum follow-up periods.
This drop-off in healthy behaviour occurs despite an adequate awareness of the risk of devel-
oping pre-diabetes and diabetes arising from a GDM diagnosis among these women. Women are
aware that they are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life; however, they
are not taking adequate steps to minimise this risk. This has been termed the knowledge-behav-
iour gapin previous literature (Jones et al., 2009). The women are exhibiting avoidance
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techniques, stating other priorities that prevent them from engaging in healthy behaviours and
relying on extrinsic motivation (family, increased health service engagement) to assist them to
take responsibility for implementing the behaviours they know are necessary.
Jones et al. (2009) highlighted the need for research to identify factors to assist in the max-
imisation of womens ability to carry out risk reduction behaviours in the postpartum period,
similar to those implemented during pregnancy. The current study provides some indications
as to why a discrepancy exists in the lifestyle behaviours at these two points in time, and
makes suggestions at potential solutions which may assist in the development of strategies
designed to improve lifestyle behaviours in the latter period.
In this sample, women with previous GDM were satised with the care they received during
their GDM pregnancy. They felt supported and cared for, felt their condition was managed well
and described positive relationships with healthcare providers at this time. However, in the post-
partum period, there was general dissatisfaction with the care received. Women felt isolated and
felt that there was a lack of a relationship with healthcare providers to assist them in managing
their diabetes risk. This is evident in previous literature in this population with Evans, Patrick,
and Wellington (2010) reporting a sense of abandonmentin the postpartum period. Both that
study and our study noted a quick transition from close monitoring and management by the ante-
natal team to minimal or no follow-up in the postpartum period. Research evidence highlights the
importance of a positive relationship between healthcare provider and patient. It is widely
accepted that good communication enhances patientsadherence to treatment (Zolnierek &
DiMatteo, 2009), and in diabetes, the quality of the patientdoctor relationship is considered
an important determinant of adherence (Delamater, 2006). In our sample, the loss of the pro-
fessional relationship appears to coincide with the time that adherence to a healthy lifestyle
decreased in many cases.
It has been acknowledged that the management of diabetes and diabetes risk by specialist dia-
betes centres is not feasible and over the past two decades, health professionals based in the com-
munity have been tasked with providing many routine diabetes services (Khunti & Ganguli,
2000). Primary care providers appear well placed to ll the healthcare provider void in the post-
partum period for this population. However, increased collaboration between specialist diabetes
services and primary care is necessary to ensure that these at-risk women are supported to manage
their high-risk status as well as having opportunities for screening to ensure that appropriate dia-
betes management can be put in place when necessary.
We hypothesise that the intense monitoring and close support provided during the GDM preg-
nancy may in fact serve to limit womens ability to be autonomous and to take responsibility of
their at-risk state. Waller (2001) described autonomyand take charge responsibilityas con-
tributors to both physical and psychological well-being. Similarly, Waller (2005) proposed that
those who can effectively and condently enjoy a sense of control are generally healthier, phys-
ically and psychologically. It has been shown that the more practice an individual has at imple-
menting a behaviour, the more skilled they are likely to become at it (Waller, 2005). However, the
post-GDM women have had limited opportunity during pregnancy to take responsibility and prac-
tice self-management behaviours for their diabetic health. Rather, health professionals have
focused on persuading patients to change and maintain healthy lifestyle through informational
powerand expert power(Glanz, Lewis, & Rimer, 1990), that is, through use of factual infor-
mation and professional credentials. However, the ndings of this study suggest that used alone,
these methods may be ineffective in promoting long-term behaviour change and may even con-
tribute to the knowledge-behaviour gap that is evidenced in this group in the postpartum period.
Instead, it seems imperative that healthcare professionals introduce techniques which aim to
increase the ownership and self-management of health and increase motivation to improve their
at-risk state. Incorporating behaviour change techniques that are grounded in theories of health
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behaviour change including, for example, the health belief model, social cognitive theory and
self-management theory, into diabetes prevention programmes are likely to be important to
ensure that the positive lifestyle behaviours are maintained into the longer term with only
minimal external support. For example, the Diabetes Prevention Programme (Diabetes Prevention
Program Research Group, 2002), which has shown positive results in the prevention of type 2
diabetes mellitus, includes components which encourage and develop self-monitoring and self-
management skills. Thus, based on our ndings as well as the positive results found in the
Diabetes Prevention Programme, it is likely that interventions that go further than provision of
advice and information but also focus on strategies to change and maintain positive behaviours
will be important and necessary in this population. It is unclear whether these interventions are
best be implemented in the antenatal or post-natal period, and further research will be necessary
to determine this.
Two related factors emerge as signicant barriers to the undertaking of healthy lifestyle beha-
viours in the postpartum period: (a) lack of time and (b) lack of willingness to prioritise ones own
health over other competing demands, primarily that of a newborn child. Evidence from this study
suggests that many women consistently prioritise their childrens and partners needs over their
own. Numerous other studies have shown that women who care for dependent family
members experience worse health outcomes because they give a higher priority to the need of
their dependents and a lower priority to their own health needs (DiGiacomo, Davidson,
Zecchin, Lamb, & Daly, 2011; Godfrey & Warshaw, 2009; Wall, 2013). Although women are
generally aware of the importance of caring for themselves, the maternal ethic of careassociated
with culturally endorsed notions of the good motherstereotype can make it difcult for them to
prioritise time for themselves over childrearing or domestic duties, as by doing so they may be
positioned as bador inadequatemothers who are not fullling their societally expected
role (Lewis & Ridge, 2005). Time scarcity is known to impact on healthy lifestyle behaviours
in parenthood (Bava, Jaeger, & Park, 2008; Jabs et al., 2007), most particularly in working
mothers and mothers with decient economic and social resources (Reczek, Beth Thomeer,
Lodge, Umberson, & Underhill, 2014). Furthermore, Wall (2013) reported that the amount of
time available for mothers to tend to their own needs while meeting the cultural expectations
of good motherhood appears to be reducing, making the prioritisation battle even more difcult.
Women in the post-GDM period must be educated, encouraged and motivated to care for and
prioritise their own health to a greater extent than they currently do, in order to reduce their risk of
developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. They need to learn to re-focus the carerole society places
on mothers, understanding that practising healthy lifestyle behaviours can in fact strengthen the
good motherrole by improving family relationships, contributing to well-being of the family
through shared family time, provision of good role models for children and providing healthy
family environments. Interventions that focus on methods to improve prioritisation and health
self-management are likely to be important in the development of strategies to assist these
women to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours. This will assist women to learn how to prioritise
their own health and take on positions of health responsibility which will reduce the perceived
necessity for external input.
In response to their perceived lack of time to engage in healthy behaviours, the women in this
study expressed a wish for access to online health intervention programmes. It has previously
been reported that electronic health (ehealth) and mobile health (mhealth) interventions can be
used to overcome barriers to the implementation of traditional programmes and have many
benets (McTigue et al., 2009; Meier, Fitzgerald, & Smith, 2013).
We acknowledge some limitations to this study. Primarily, we did not observe or measure
behaviours and these women experienced their GDM pregnancy three to seven years prior to
the interviews conducted as part of this study. Thus, the behaviours reported may differ to
Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine 213
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those actually engaged in. Furthermore, we did not assess the socioeconomic status of the women
involved as we are unable to determine whether certain socioeconomic groupings are more likely
to report an increased likelihood to engage in healthy behaviours or exhibit better self-manage-
ment skills. In addition, the researcher who conducted the interviews also conducted the analysis
which may lead to experimenter bias being applicable to the research result reported. However,
we attempted to mitigate the risk of bias through (a) use of an interview guide designed in advance
of the interviews, (b) use of an interviewer who was not involved in the care of the women
involved and (c) concurrent transcript analysis by another researcher, again who was not involved
in the womens care. However, readers must be cognisant that despite these checks being
implemented to minimise the risk of experimenter bias occurring, there is the possibility that
bias did inuence the outcome of the research result in this case. Future work is called for that
accounts for the limitations of this study and may result in additional perspectives and thus,
better identication of solutions which may improve womens ability to engage in healthy beha-
viours to account for their identied higher type 2 diabetes risk post a GDM pregnancy.
In summary, this study revealed that during a GDM pregnancy, women implemented positive
lifestyle change as they were motivated by protecting the health of their unborn child. However,
the motivation to continue with a healthy lifestyle was often reduced in the postpartum period, and
appears relevant to the lack of external support available to the women and the lack of health self-
management skills developed by the women. As recommended by Jones et al. (2009), this study
has provided further evidence of the barriers and facilitators to undertaking healthy lifestyle beha-
viours in this population. The study also makes suggestions as to how best to support the improve-
ment of healthy lifestyle behaviours in the postpartum period. We would recommend the routine
inclusion of interventions to develop prioritisation and health self-management skills among these
women. These ndings can contribute to the development of lifestyle interventions and behaviour
change strategies designed to assist women with previous GDM to manage their increased dia-
betes mellitus risk.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
This work was supported by the Health Research Board [ICE2011/3].
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... A lack of systematic follow-up made them relapse into bad habits after the birth. This concurs with other studies showing that this group were surprised by the lack of follow-up and felt that their risk of future T2DM and CVD were not addressed postpartum [22,[32][33][34]. In Norway, different professionals are involved in care for women with pregnancy complications. ...
... Tierney et al. describe how women found close followup at the GDM clinic to be crucial for successful lifestyle changes during pregnancy [34]. Many reverted to previous habits after the follow-up, as described by many women in the present study. ...
... Participation in focus groups soon after giving birth was a strength of this study by diminishing the possibility of recall bias. Comparable studies have involved a longer interval between birth and interview [22,34,43]. Validation of diagnostic codes enabled the distinction between moderate and severe PE. ...
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Background: Preeclampsia (PE) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are both associated with increased risk of future cardiovascular disease (CVD). Knowledge of the relationship between these pregnancy complications and increased CVD risk enables early prevention through lifestyle changes. This study aimed to explore women's experiences with PE and/or GDM, and their motivation and need for information and support to achieve lifestyle changes. Methods: Systematic text condensation was used for thematic analysis of meaning and content of data from five focus group interviews with 17 women with PE and/or GDM, with a live birth between January 2015 and October 2017. Results: This study provides new knowledge of how women with GDM and/or PE experience pregnancy complications in a Nordic healthcare model. It reveals the support they want and the important motivating factors for lifestyle change. We identified six themes: Trivialization of the diagnosis during pregnancy; Left to themselves to look after their own health; The need to process the shock before making lifestyle changes (severe PE); A desire for information about future disease risk and partner involvement; Practical solutions in a busy life with a little one, and; Healthcare professionals can reinforce the turning point. The women with GDM wanted healthcare professionals to motivate them to continue the lifestyle changes introduced during pregnancy. Those with severe PE felt a need for individualized care to ensure that they had processed their traumatic labor experiences before making lifestyle changes. Participants wanted their partner to be routinely involved to ensure a joint understanding of the need for lifestyle changes. Motivation for lifestyle changes in pregnancy was linked to early information and seeing concrete results. Conclusions: Women with PE and GDM have different experiences of diagnosis and treatment, which will affect the follow-up interventions to reduce future CVD risk through lifestyle change. For GDM patients, lifestyle changes in pregnancy should be reinforced and continued postpartum. Women with PE should be informed by their general practitioner after birth, and given a plan for lifestyle change. Those with severe PE will need help in processing the trauma, and stress management should be routinely offered.
... A study in Australia found that South Asian women were prepared to modify lifestyle for optimal fetal health and development [8]. This was found in other studies [23] which suggested that women were motivated to maximize their children's health and adopt healthy behavioural practices in pregnancy [24]. ...
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Background South Asian women are at a high risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus than other women in Australia. Gestational diabetes affects up to 14–19% of all pregnancies among South Asian, South East Asian, and Arabic populations placing women at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although, gestational diabetes resolves after childbirth, women with gestational diabetes are up to seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years of the index pregnancy. Increasingly, South Asian women are being diagnosed with gestational diabetes in Australia. Therefore, we aimed to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences of South Asian women and their experiences of self-management and their health care providers’ perspectives of treatment strategies. Methods Using an ethnographic qualitative research methodology, semi-structured one-on-one, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 21 health care providers involved in gestational diabetes management and treatment from the three largest tertiary level maternity hospitals in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 South Asian women post diagnosis between 24–28 weeks gestation in pregnancy. Results Health care providers had challenges in providing care to South Asian women. The main challenge was to get women to self-manage their blood glucose levels with lifestyle modification. Whilst, women felt self-management information provided were inadequate and inappropriate to their needs. Women felt ‘losing control over their pregnancy’, because of being preoccupied with diet and exercise to control their blood glucose level. Conclusions The gestational diabetes clinical practice at the study hospitals were unable to meet consumer expectations. Health care providers need to be familiar of diverse patient cultures, rather than applying the current ‘one size fits all’ approach that failed to engage and meet the needs of immigrant and ethnic women. Future enabling strategies should aim to co-design and develop low Glycaemic Index diet plans of staple South Asian foods and lifestyle modification messages.
... Postpartum follow-up of women with a history of GDM is essential due to their high risk of developing T2DM, a risk that increases during the first 10 years if there are no changes in the health-related lifestyle; therefore, it is necessary to educate and advise on a healthy lifestyle based on weight control, diet, and physical exercise [11][12][13]. ...
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Objectives: To understand user preferences related to the characteristics of an application that promotes and provides education on healthy habits to correctly design multimedia elements. Methods: We conducted a comprehensive qualitative study with a hermeneutical strategy, which gathered information using well-researched questions that were posed to focus groups consisting of 32 participants. These participants were asked for opinions related to multimedia elements to display educational messages about physical activity and healthy eating in a mobile application. There were three analysis categories of multimedia elements: text, visual elements, and audio elements. Results: The majority of the participants, 93.75%, were in the low socioeconomic stratum; 68.75% are in a civil union with their partner; 53.12% completed or failed to complete secondary school, and 68.75% were housewives. Based on the qualitative results, we found that mobile applications become mediating tools that support the adoption of actions that tend to improve lifestyles and increase knowledge about proper nutrition and physical activity. Text messages used in mobile applications should promote healthy habits and remind users of their benefits. Images and videos should be accompanied by text and audio to provide greater clarity regarding recommendations of healthy habits. Conclusions: Technology must provide accessibility and coverage opportunities, while meeting the needs and expectations of users. It should facilitate primary health intervention through education to transform unhealthy behaviors and generate lifestyles that improve the health of the user and their family context.
... 21 In particular, during pregnancy women are motivated to make lifestyle changes for the health of their fetus; therefore, they may be more receptive to behavioral interventions. 22,23 Current prenatal HCP-mediated GWG counseling appears to be insufficient with respect to content, frequency, and accuracy. 24 A recent literature review examining patient and provider perceptions of GWG communication noted that more HCPs self-reported discussing GWG with their patients than patients reported being counseled in care. ...
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... Because this baby hasn't asked for this; and what if the baby comes out and has some kind of disease? Then it's my fault.'[58] 'GDM was a hidden blessing for me... GDM can go away after you have the baby but diabetes is not so easily fixable …I am much more aware of [the] need to prevent it.'[32] ...
Article
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... Our findings that women with GDM have to overcome several barriers to lifestyle change in their physical and social environment are in agreement with studies with GDM women from high-income countries such as the United States and Ireland [12,42,43] and some LMICs [44]. During the GDM pregnancy, the woman and her family direct all financial resources towards her to ensure positive obstetric outcomes. ...
Article
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Background Lifestyle change can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women with prior gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). While understanding women’s lived experiences and views around GDM is critical to the development of behaviour change interventions to reduce this risk, few studies have addressed this issue in low- and middle- income countries. The aim of the study was to explore women’s lived experiences of GDM and the feasibility of sustained lifestyle modification after GDM in a low-income setting. Methods This was a descriptive qualitative study on the lived experiences of women with prior GDM, who received antenatal care at a public sector tertiary hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Nine focus groups and five in-depth interviews were conducted with a total of thirty-five women. Data were analysed using content analysis and the COM-B (Capabilities, Opportunities, Motivations and Behaviour) model to identify factors influencing lifestyle change during and beyond the GDM pregnancy. Results The results suggest that the COM-B model’s concepts of capability (knowledge and skills for behaviour change), opportunity (resources for dietary change and physical activity) and motivation (perception of future diabetes risk) are relevant to lifestyle change among GDM women in South Africa. The results will contribute to the design of a postpartum health system intervention for women with recent GDM. Conclusion Our findings highlight the need for health services to improve counselling and education for women with GDM in South Africa. Support from family and health professionals is essential for women to achieve lifestyle change. The experience of GDM imposed a significant psychological burden on women, which affected motivation for lifestyle change. To achieve long-term lifestyle change, behaviour interventions for women with prior GDM need to address their capability, opportunity and motivation for lifestyle change during and beyond pregnancy.
... Postpartum follow-up of women with a history of GDM is essential due to their high risk of developing T2DM, a risk that increases during the first 10 years if there are no changes in the health-related lifestyle; therefore, it is necessary to educate and advise on a healthy lifestyle based on weight control, diet, and physical exercise [11][12][13]. ...
Article
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This paper reports on a mixed methods study which sought to explore the role of physical activity in relation to the management of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM); the impact of a diagnosis of GDM on a woman’s life; follow-up support and factors that both hinder and support women to engage in physical activity post-partum in order to reduce their risk of developing future type 2 diabetes. Thirty-eight women who had a pregnancy complicated by GDM completed surveys. In-depth interviews were then conducted with a subset of eight women who completed these surveys, to further explore their experiences. Women reported making changes to their lifestyle to improve diet and engage in physical activity during pregnancy. These changes were harder to sustain after the baby was born. In this study few women underwent the recommended six-weekly oral glucose tolerance testing, and post-partum follow-up support was virtually non-existent. There is a clear role for health promotion across a number of sectors to support sustained behaviour change in this high-risk group of women. Factors are identified that could enhance follow-up support, particularly for lifestyle change.
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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is strongly associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Animal models are essential tool for screening of pharmaceutical agents. Thus, the aim of the current investigation was to develop an animal model, which simulates the natural history and metabolic characteristics of human NAFLD to screening of pharmaceutical agents. Day old male Wistar rat pups were treated either Streptozotocin 100 mg/ kg i.p or vehicle. Twenty-one days post treatment, animals were weaned and neonatal Streptozotocin (nSTZ) treated group further divided into two groups. The animals were fed regular chow diet and normal drinking water or another group fed high fat diet (HFD - 60 Kcal %) with 40 % fructose in drinking water, for 20 weeks. After 20 weeks, oral glucose tolerance test was performed. Plasma glucose, hepatic triglyceride and insulin were determined. At the end of the study, animals were sacrifi ced organs obtained and weighed. Hepatic steatosis was assessed by histopathology.The nSTZ animals fed HFD with 40 % fructose showed signifi cant increase in body weight (P<0.05), fat pad (P<0.01) and liver weight (P<0.01) as compared regular chow diet fed nSTZ animals. In addition these animals also showed signifi cant increase in glucose intolerance (P<0.001 vs. nSTZ control; P<0.001 vs. normal control), HOMA- IR (Homeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance) (P<0.01 vs. nSTZ control; P<0.01 vs. normal control) and hepatic triglyceride content (P<0.01 vs. nSTZ control; P<0.01 vs. normal control). Liver histopathology assessment revealed the nSTZ animals fed HFD with 40 % fructose develop marked hepatic steatosis. In conclusions, these data demonstrate the nSTZ animals fed HFD with 40 % fructose develop NAFLD with insulin resistance and obesity that mimic the pattern of human NAFLD initiation and development. This model is also easy to develop and suitable for screening pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of NAFLD.
Article
Objectives: 1) To explore the health behaviours of women with recent gestational diabetes mellitus in the first year postpartum; and 2) to compare their perceived health status with their actual experiences in establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyle changes. Methods: A concurrent mixed method design using semi-structured interviews, supplemented by the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey, diet recall and activity-level records collected at multiple intervals. Results: A total of 16 women rated their general health (SF- 36) as good or very good, but diets rarely met Canada's Food Guide recommendations. Narratives revealed initial experiences of abandonment and uncertainty with respect to staying healthy and moving on at 1 year. Continuing support and education postpartum were identified as being needed to maintain changes made during pregnancy. Conclusions: Participants acknowledged their increased risk for type 2 diabetes and were cognizant of health behaviours that might prevent diabetes; however, sustaining lifestyle changes in diet and activity were described as difficult.
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Compliance or adherence problems are common in diabetes management. Many factors are potentially related to these problems, including demographic, psychological, social, health care provider and medical system, and disease- and treatment-related factors. The terms "compliance" and "adherence" are problematic constructs that may actually serve to perpetuate diabetes management difficulties. Because diabetes is a chronic illness requiring a variety of self-management behaviors, a patient-centered collaborative model of care recognizing patient autonomy provides a more skillful approach to improving diabetes self-care behaviors. To improve patients' diabetes self-management behaviors, health care providers should cultivate patient-centered relationships that respect patient autonomy; organize their clinic or office to be patient-friendly; provide continuity of care with interim telephone contacts; talk collaboratively with patients about treatment rationales and goals; brain-storm and problem-solve with their patients; gradually implement and tailor the regimen; provide written instructions; use self-monitoring, social supports and reinforcement, and behavioral contracts; and routinely refer patients to behavioral health specialists.
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This research note reports the results of a comparison of face-to-face interviewing with telephone interviewing in a qualitative study. The study was designed to learn visitors’ and correctional officers’ perceptions of visiting county jail inmates. The original study design called for all face-to-face interviews, but the contingencies of fieldwork required an adaptation and half of the interviews were conducted by phone. Prior literature suggested that the interview modes might yield different results. However, comparison of the interview transcripts revealed no significant differences in the interviews. With some qualifications, we conclude that telephone interviews can be used productively in qualitative research.
Article
eHealth holds the promise of revolutionizing health care by improving its efficiency; extending and enhancing its reach; energizing and engaging its practitioners and their patients; and in the process, democratizing, decentralizing, and even partially demystifying the practice of medicine. In emerging and developing countries, the use of eHealth and smart health-care planning has the potential to expand access to necessary treatments and prevention services that can serve as underpinnings of rapid economic development. In developed countries, the application of eHealth promises to restructure the business model of health-care delivery, while at the same time improving and personalizing the quality of care received. This article reviews the past, present, and future of eHealth in an effort to illuminate the potential of its impact. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering Volume 15 is July 11, 2013. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.