In the childbearing period women use the internet both to seek information and as an important source of communication. For women with type 1 diabetes, pregnancy and early motherhood constitute a more complex situation than for women in general. This implies need for support from various professionals and a way of bridging any discontinuity in care would be to develop a website providing complementary social support and information. The objective of this study was to explore internet use, needs, and expectations regarding web-based information and communication in childbearing women with type 1 diabetes.
Data were collected via a web-based survey with an explorative and descriptive design, in which 105 of 139 eligible mothers with type 1 diabetes and recent childbearing experience participated. The data were analyzed with descriptive and analytical statistics, and open answers with a directed content analysis.
Of the 105 women, 22% never used the internet to search for information concerning pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. 12% searched for information every day, 29% one or more times a week, and 38% one or more times a month. Of the women 44% declared themselves to be passive participants on social websites, and 45% to be active participants. 45% had specific expectations of web-based support directed towards childbearing, especially those with higher educational level (P = .01). Expectations of instrumental and informational support included an expert-controlled website with reliable, updated, and information focused on childbearing and diabetes, improved access to diabetes care professionals and alternative ways to communicate and to receive childbearing-related support. The women also asked for online technical devices to manage the frequent monitoring of blood glucose during pregnancy. Informal, emotional, and appraisal support from women in similar situations was suggested as a way to provide an arena for belonging instead of creating feelings of alienation.
Our results add important knowledge about the web-based needs of women with type 1 diabetes in relation to childbearing. This user directed study indicates specific areas of development for the provision of effective web-based support that includes facilities for reliable information, interactive support and social networking in this population.