A qualitative investigation into the perceptions and experiences of the stigma attached to gestational diabetes mellitus among women in Denmark

Type Article

Journal Article


Davidsen E, Terkildsen Maindal H, Byrne M, Kelstrup L, Ovesen P, Damm P, Kragelund Nielsen K.

Year of publication



Diabetes Res Clin Pract





Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in Denmark, with a particular focus on GDM-specific stigma. Method: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 women with GDM from January to May 2022. All interviews were transcribed and analysed abductively using Braun and Clarke's framework for applied reflexive analysis. Results: Five themes were identified, 1) victim-blaming narrative, 2) identity threat, 3) non-disclosure and anticipated stigma, 4) stigma in a clinical setting, and 5) stigma reduction in a clinical setting. Additionally, intersectionality was identified between GDM-specific stigma, notions of how to be a good mother, and stigma associated with having type 2 diabetes mellitus and overweight. Implications of GDM-specific stigma included suboptimal GDM care and management, i.e., not attending screening for GDM, and not wanting to disclose the diagnosis. Conclusion: The impact of GDM-specific stigma on the informants' lives included some informants not accepting all services provided by the healthcare system, and some not wanting to identify with the diagnosis. These findings may help inform both healthcare personnel and future health promotion interventions to minimize the reproduction of a victim-blaming narrative and thereby promote well-being among women with GDM.