To explore the experiences and perceptions of gestational diabetes mellitus reported by women within online parental-support forums and, specifically, to analyse what women say about a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, their future risk of type 2 diabetes, and lifestyle behaviour for management of gestational diabetes and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
The discussion boards of two parenting websites (Mumsnet and Netmums) were searched using the search term ‘gestational diabetes or GD’ in February 2019. Relevant posts made by users with gestational diabetes on or after 1 January 2017 were retained for analysis. Framework analysis using pre-existing framework from a previous study was used to organize and analyse the data.
A total of 646 posts generated by 282 unique users were included in the analysis. Analysis of the online content identified three important implicit messages that may be being conveyed to readers. The first is that gestational diabetes is not a serious diagnosis that warrants undue concern. Secondly, few users recognized the importance of their own behaviours or lifestyle, with others minimizing personal responsibility or attributing gestational diabetes to non-modifiable factors. Finally, there was a lack of acknowledgment of heightened risk of type 2 diabetes. These three messages will all directly mitigate against the efforts of clinicians (and others) to encourage women with gestational diabetes to improve their lifestyle behaviours in the longer term.
These findings highlight messages that are being widely disseminated and that are unlikely to support prevention of type 2 diabetes.
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