'Weighty issues' in GP-led antenatal care: a qualitative study

Ruth Walker, Tammie S.T. Choi, Karyn Alexander, Danielle Mazza, Helen Truby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Approximately 50% of women gain weight in excess of gestational weight gain (GWG) recommendations during pregnancy leading to adverse maternal and foetal outcomes and the perpetuation of the cycle of obesity. Antenatal care provided by a general practitioner (GP) in the primary care setting is an important model of care, particularly for women in regional areas where rates of overweight and obesity are highest. The aim of this study is to explore GPs' perceptions and experiences of implementing GWG recommendations in GP-led antenatal care. METHODS: A qualitative exploratory approach recorded GPs' experiences and insights regarding the application of GWG recommendations in practice. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews informed by the revised Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Deductive thematic analysis grouped coded text into TDF domains from which main themes were generated. RESULTS: Twenty GPs (13 female, 7 male) from metropolitan and regional Victoria, Australia participated. Codes related to at least one of 11 TDF domains. Five main themes were apparent: 1) Despite low awareness of guidelines, GWG advice is provided; 2) 'I should do this more'; 3) Lack of everyday resources; 4) Working 'against the odds' at times; and 5) Optimism and reality. GPs were aware of the importance of optimal GWG however, other pregnancy-related issues are given precedence during consultations. Enablers for the implementation of GWG guidelines were practitioner-based and included GPs' strong sense of their professional role to provide advice, and ongoing and trusting relationships with women throughout pregnancy. Barriers were mostly health system-based with limited time, remuneration, and restrictive referral pathways being limiting factors. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to support GPs to provide GWG advice in accordance with current national guidelines. Solutions potentially lie in strategies that promote the effective dissemination and uptake of guidelines, and changes to policy and funding within the health-system so that longer GP-led antenatal care consultations are remunerated and referrals to allied health are accessible to women who require additional support to optimise GWG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019


  • Antenatal care
  • Barriers
  • Enablers
  • Guidelines
  • Implementation
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary care
  • Weight

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