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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Women’s experiences of factors that facilitate or inhibit gestational diabetes self-management

Mary Carolan1*, Gurjeet K Gill2 and Cheryl Steele3

Author affiliations

1 School of Nursing and Midwifery, St Alban’s Campus, Victoria University, PO Box 14228, Melbourne, 8001, Australia

2 Australian Community Centre for Diabetes (ACCD), Victoria University, St Alban’s Campus, PO Box 14228, Melbourne, 8001, Australia

3 Western Health, Diabetes Education Service, Western Hospital, Gordon St. Footscray, Victoria, 3011, Victoria, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:99  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-99

Published: 18 September 2012



Gestational diabetes rates have increased dramatically in the past two decades and this pattern of increase appears to relate primarily to the obesity epidemic, older maternal age and migration from world areas of high GDM risk. Women from disadvantaged and migrant backgrounds are most at risk of developing and of mismanaging this condition. The aim of the study was to explore the factors that facilitated or inhibited gestational diabetes self-management among women in a socially deprived area.


Fifteen pregnant women, with a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, were purposively recruited for this study. Qualitative semi structured interviews and 1 focus group were conducted when participants were approximately 28–38 weeks gestation. The study’s theoretical framework was based on interpretative phenomenology and data was analysed using a thematic analysis approach.


Women in this study identified a number of factors that complicated their task of GDM self-management. Barriers included: (1) time pressures; (2) physical constraints; (3) social constraints; (4) limited comprehension of requirements, and (5) insulin as an easier option. Factors facilitating GDM self-management included: thinking about the baby and psychological support from partners and families.


Women from low socio economic and migrant backgrounds often struggle to comprehend GDM self-management requirements. To improve adherence to management plans, these women require educational and supportive services that are culturally appropriate and aimed at a low level of literacy.

Gestational diabetes; Disadvantaged; Barriers; Self-management