Background: Gestational weight gain (GWG) interventions early in pregnancy are an important part of a comprehensive approach to addressing maternal obesity. Given that General Practitioners (GPs) are most likely to confirm pregnancies and to provide early antenatal care, understanding their role in managing maternal obesity is an important first step in designing interventions for GPs that assist them in providing support and preventive care to their obese patients.
Aims: 1) To determine how GPs perceive their role in managing maternal obesity; 2) To explore GPs experiences in managing maternal obesity and GWG; 3) To explore possible intervention components that would help GPs to manage maternal obesity.
Methods: A semi-structured interview was designed to address the three aims of the study. GPs participating in shared antenatal care in the Perth metropolitan area were invited to participate. Data from the semi-structured interview were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Fifteen GPs completed an individual interview. In discussing how GPs perceive their role in managing maternal obesity and minimising GWG, all respondents agreed that GPs have a key role. Despite this, most GPs recognised that they lacked the skills and confidence. On the topic of current experiences in managing maternal obesity, two themes were identified: 1) variation in the scope, timing, and effectiveness of discussing the risks of maternal obesity; and 2) barriers to managing GWG in a GP setting (e.g. skills and time). In discussing components of an intervention, GPs suggested incorporating training, as well as practical strategies and information on GWG and weight management.
Conclusions: GPs acknowledged that they have a vital role to play in the management of maternal obesity and GWG, however, their current practice and skills varied widely. This study suggests supporting GPs to deliver a GWG intervention is essential to managing maternal obesity in the primary care setting.