Perception of pregnancy risk among women with gestational diabetes and their partners: a mixed methods study

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Lennon, Suzanne Lydia
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BACKGROUND: Gestational diabetes (GD) is a common complication of pregnancy, impacting 6-7% of pregnancies, yet little is known regarding how women with GD perceive risk during pregnancy. No studies have been conducted regarding the partner’s risk perception. There is a gap in pregnancy risk perception research regarding the perspective of the father. DESIGN/METHODS: Partially mixed, sequential, mixed methods. Participants were pregnant women, with an index diagnosis of GD and their male partners, recruited from two Winnipeg hospitals. QUANTITATIVE: Participants (n=214, 107 couples), completed self-report questionnaires. Descriptive statistics, chi square, t tests, Pearson's r, and linear regression were used to analyze data. QUALITATIVE: Participants (n=16; 8 couples), participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analyzed using content analysis. RESULTS: Women had significantly higher pregnancy risk perception scores (M 39.0 out of 100, SD 17.3) than men (M 33.6, SD16.6; paired t = 3.2; p =.002). There were unique predictors of risk perception. For women, perceived stress (β = 0.32, p = .001) and pre-pregnancy BMI (β = 0.19, p = .028) were significant predictors (R2 = .36). For men, significant predictors were level of education (β = 0.31, p = .004), risk familiarity (β = 0.23, p = .018), dread (β = 0.21, p = .020), Winnipeg residence (β = 0.18, p = .044), and self-efficacy (β = 0.17, p = .045) (R2 =.30). Qualitative findings revealed that risk perception was shaped by factors such as simultaneously acknowledging GD risk while minimizing personal risk. Couples viewed differences in risk perceptions as related to personality characteristics, not as a function of gender. Couples agreed factors such as emotional support, prompt follow-up and personalized dietary plans were important in reducing risk perceptions. CONCLUSIONS: Gender differences exist in level of perceived pregnancy risk and in predictors of perceived risk for women with GD and their partners. Women perceived higher levels of pregnancy risk than men; however, both genders attempted to minimize the degree of personal risk. Identification of the gender specific predictors of GD risk perception may allow healthcare professionals to tailor educational materials and interventions, leading to programs to improve pregnancy outcomes.
Pregnanc* gestational diabetes, risk perception, gender