The holistic maternity care needs of women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A systematic review with thematic synthesis

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PROBLEM: Models of care for women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have evolved in an ad hoc way and do not meet women's needs.

BACKGROUND: GDM affects 50,000 Australian women per annum with prevalence quadrupling in the last ten years. Many health services are struggling to provide a quality service. People with diabetes are calling for care that focuses on their wellbeing more broadly.

AIM: To examine the holistic (emotional, social, economic, and spiritual) care needs of women with GDM.

METHODS: Qualitative and mixed-methods studies capturing the healthcare experiences of women with GDM were searched for in CINAHL, Medline, Web of Science and Scopus. English-language studies published between 2011 and 2023 were included. Quality of studies was assessed using Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool and NVIVO was used to identify key themes and synthesise data.

FINDINGS: Twenty-eight studies were included, representing the experiences of 958 women. Five themes reflect women's holistic needs through their journey from initial diagnosis to postpartum: psychological impact, information and education, making change for better health, support, and care transition.

DISCUSSION: The biomedical, fetal-centric model of care neglects the woman's holistic wellbeing resulting in high levels of unmet need. Discontinuity between tertiary and primary services results in a missed opportunity to assist women to make longer term changes that would benefit themselves (and their families) into the future.

CONCLUSIONS: The provision of holistic models of care for this cohort is pivotal to improving clinical outcomes and the experiences of women with GDM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Birth
Early online date6 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sept 2023


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