Women’s experiences of using a smartphone- application, the Pregnant+app, to manage Gestational Diabetes Mellitus - a qualitative study
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Background: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), defined as glucose intolerance with first onset or recognition during pregnancy, is an increasing health challenge worldwide. A smartphone application (app) may offer new opportunities for women with GDM to manage their blood glucose values and to receive health and nutrition information. In the Pregnant+ Randomized controlled trial (RCT), a smartphone app for GDM as an addition to standard follow-up for GDM was tested and compared to standard follow up only. The app supports automatic transfer of blood glucose values from the glucometer to the smartphone and includes information about nutrition and physical activity for women with GDM. The RCT was conducted at 5 different diabetes outpatient clinics in Norway. The aim of this thesis is to explore how women who participated in the Pregnant+ RCT experienced managing GDM using a smartphone app (the Pregnant+ app). Methods: Participants in the intervention group of the Pregnant+ RCT were purposely recruited. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 participants. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) inspired the analytic process. Results: Five main superordinate- themes were identified: Reactions to diagnosis, management of GDM, experiences with the Pregnant+app, the app´s impact on women´s management of GDM and their diet and the app in cooperation with health professional. The women experienced that the app increased their confidence in own GDM-management and increased their motivation for behavior change. The information in the app was considered easily accessible and reliable. However, technological challenges and lack of support from health professionals limited the use of the app for several women. Conclusion: This study has provided an insight into women´s experiences and perceptions of using an app to manage GDM. The findings suggests that a smartphone app may have a great potential in assisting women with GDM in blood glucose management and increase their confidence in own GDM-management. However, it also enlightens some of the potential challenges of using mobile health technologies. The findings indicate that a closer collaboration with health professionals may be beneficial in the implementation of apps for women with GDM in the future. More studies are needed in order to further assess the use of smartphone apps for women with GDM.
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