Diagnosis of gestational diabetes in Uganda: The reactions of women, family members and health workers
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In Uganda, as in many other low- and middle-income countries, screening for gestational diabetes mellitus is suboptimal and is rarely embedded in routine antenatal care. We describe the experiences of women in Uganda who underwent screening for gestational diabetes mellitus and were diagnosed with the condition as they navigate both the reaction of family members and their interaction with health workers. Methods: Pregnant women aged 18 years or older and between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation were enrolled from the antenatal clinics at one of the five hospitals between 13 June 2018 and 31 October 2019. Ten women with gestational diabetes mellitus, ten family members and six health workers were purposively selected to take part. Interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data on the socio-cultural and health system factors that influence timely screening and effective management of gestational diabetes mellitus in Uganda. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Women generally reflected on the importance of gestational diabetes mellitus screening and felt that an early diagnosis helped them to get timely medical attention, and most reported a positive experience of the care provided by health workers. However, women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus reported feeling fearful and anxious, and some were worried that the condition might be life-threatening. Many women reported that they were upset and largely unprepared to receive a gestational diabetes mellitus diagnosis. A gestational diabetes mellitus diagnosis not only stirred intense feelings of fear and anxiety in women but also affected their spouses and other family members. Many male partners were sympathetic and willing to provide support. Conclusion: Our findings highlight the need to understand the perceptions and emotions that accompany a gestational diabetes mellitus diagnosis to best support women and their family members. An improved recognition of these factors can inform the development of effective gestational diabetes mellitus screening and management programmes.
- Medical and Health Sciences