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Encouraging women with gestational diabetes to stay active

Project summary

Developing and testing a theory-based intervention to increase physical activity for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus

Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth, can be dangerous for the mother and baby if blood glucose levels aren’t kept under control. Physical activity is a good strategy for controlling blood glucose levels. Dr Jepson would like to develop a feasible and sustainable way of helping women with gestational diabetes to be more active. If successful, this could improve the health of mothers with gestational diabetes and their babies.

Background to research

We know that being physically active can help women with gestational diabetes and their babies. Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes later in their lives, and physical activity may also help to reduce this risk. Unfortunately, studies have shown that majority of women with gestational diabetes don’t reach the recommended levels for physical activity.

To successfully encourage women with gestational diabetes to be more active, we need to understand their needs. Dr Jepson would like to combine theories behind psychology and health with the opinions of women with gestational diabetes. She plans to develop a feasible and sustainable way to help these women increase their physical activity.

Research aims

A PhD student working with Dr Jepson will develop a framework to encourage women with gestation diabetes to be active. During the first stage of the project they will consult women who have or have had gestational diabetes, and their doctors, to understand everyone’s needs.

Based on the interviews and current theories behind psychology and health, they will then develop a new way to encourage women to be active. These methods will be tested in a small group of women with gestational diabetes, and the student will evaluate its impact on physical activity levels and general health. The women will also provide feedback on how they found the new strategy.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

At Diabetes UK we want to improve quality of life for people with diabetes, reducing the impact of diabetes both now and on future health. This project will help us understand what the needs of women with gestational diabetes are and how we can encourage them to be active. If successful, this project could be used as a strategy to ensure the health and wellbeing of women with gestational diabetes and their children.

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