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Aims To synthesize systematically the literature that focuses on the views of women with a history of gestational diabetes on reducing their risk of developing diabetes postpartum through lifestyle and behaviour changes. Methods We identified qualitative studies that examined the views of women with a history of gestational diabetes towards healthy eating and physical activity, Type 2 diabetes risk management or their experience of a diabetes prevention programme, and conducted a thematic synthesis to develop descriptive and then analytical themes. We evaluated the quality of each study and the confidence that we had in its findings using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programmes criteria and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation‐Confidence in Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research. Results We included 21 articles after screening 23 160 citations and 129 full texts. We identified six themes of interacting influences on postpartum behaviour: role as mother and priorities; social support; demands of life; personal preferences and experiences; risk perception and information; and finances and resources (plus preferred format of interventions). These factors inhibited many women from addressing their own health, while they motivated others to persevere. We also developed 20 recommendations, most with high or moderate confidence, for effective promotion of healthy lifestyles in this population. Conclusions Many factors hinder healthy lifestyles after gestational diabetes, yet how women interpret them can motivate or prevent changes that reduce diabetes risk. As our recommendations emphasize, women's experiences and needs should be considered when designing strategies to promote healthier lifestyles in this population.

More information Original publication




Journal article


Diabetic Medicine

Publication Date



Systematic review by Rebecca Dennison: SPCR seedcorn