Gestational diabetes (GDM) is increasingly common and the burden to healthcare services is well recognized. Less understood is the emotional burden associated with a diagnosis of GDM, from the women’s perspective. A qualitative study of women attending the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Antenatal Diabetes Service was undertaken during a 14-week period in 2018. Women were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire which asked, “How do you feel about the diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes?” Women were included in the study at three time points, i) newly diagnosed with GDM ii) at 36 weeks gestation and iii) at 3-month follow-up post-delivery. Responses were received from 189 women; 121, 32 and 36 at diagnosis, 36 weeks and post-delivery time points respectively. Their free text responses were transcribed and a thematic analysis of content was undertaken. Results were visualized using a word cloud and tag cloud generator (www.wordclouds.com) with font size representing the prominence or frequency of words expressed. As demonstrated by the images generated, the predominant feelings expressed at diagnosis were ‘worried,’ ‘disappointed,’ ‘upset,’ ‘sad’ and ‘anxious.’ These negative emotions prevailed irrespective of previous GDM experience and maternal age. At 36 weeks the predominant feelings expressed were ‘frustrated,’ ‘disappointed,’ ‘worried,’ ‘upset’ and ‘anxious.’ The primary emotion expressed in diet treated women was ‘anxious’ and in insulin treated women ‘worried.’ Post-delivery, the predominant words were ‘relieved,’ ‘supported’ and ‘anxious.’
In conclusion, there was a high prevalence of negative emotion expressed by women with GDM at diagnosis which persisted throughout pregnancy and, for many, into the postnatal period. Clinicians need to be mindful of this high emotional burden with the aim to better support women with GDM and reduce associated distress.
A. Harding: None. M. McGill: None. A. Gauld: None. C.M. Pech: None. D. O'Connor: None. M.I. Constantino: None. G.P. Ross: Other Relationship; Self; Roche Diabetes Care Australia. T. Wu: Advisory Panel; Self; Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH, Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk A/S, Sanofi. Speaker's Bureau; Self; AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Novo Nordisk A/S, Sanofi. J. Wong: Advisory Panel; Self; Sanofi. Speaker's Bureau; Self; AstraZeneca, Lilly Diabetes.