Improving health service delivery for women with diabetes in pregnancy in remote Australia: survey of care in the Northern Territory Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership

Laura Edwards, Christine Connors, Cherie Whitbread, Alex Brown, Jeremy Oats, Louise Maple-Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Background: In the Northern Territory (NT), 38% of 3500 births each year are to Indigenous women, 80% of whom live in regional and remote areas. Compared with the general Australian population, rates of pre-existing type 2 diabetes in pregnancy are 10-fold higher and rates of gestational diabetes are 1.5-fold higher among Indigenous women. Current practices in screening for diabetes in pregnancy in remote Australia are not known. 

    Aims: To assess current health service delivery for NT women with diabetes in pregnancy (DIP) by surveying healthcare professionals' views and practices in DIP screening and management. 

    Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of NT healthcare professionals providing clinical care for women with DIP was conducted based on pre-identified themes of communication, care-coordination, education, orientation and guidelines, logistics and access, and information technology. 

    Results: Of the 116 responders to the survey, 78% were primary healthcare professionals, 32% midwives and 25% general practitioners. High staff turnover was evident: of Central Australian professionals, only 33% (urban) and 18% (regional/remote) had been in their current position over 5 years. DIP screening was conducted at first antenatal visit by 66% and at 24-28-week gestation by 81%. Only 50% of respondents agreed that most women at their health service received appropriate care for DIP, and 41% of primary care practitioners were neutral or not confident in their skills to manage DIP. 

    Conclusions: It is promising that many healthcare professionals report following new guidelines in conducting early pregnancy screening for DIP in high risk women. Several challenges were identified in healthcare delivery to a high risk population in remote Australia. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)534-540
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Volume54
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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