Date Submitted


Faculty Advisor

Sarah E Getch, PhD

Second Faculty Advisor

Amy Sickel, PsyD

Third Faculty Advisor

Tiffany Ruffin, PsyD


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GD) is a disease that affects a significant population of pregnant women. Poorly controlled GD results in maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Improvement of problematic symptoms rely on early diagnosis and precise glycemic control and there is an expectation on the part of health care providers that patients will follow strict treatment regimens. However, when the health seeking behavior of a patient does not meet the expectation of a provider, this can become problematic leading to feelings of stigmatization which acts as a barrier to healthcare access that can be critical to controlling problematic symptoms. The aims of the study were to explore the relationship between stigmatization and treatment adherence in women with GD, to determine if stigma was positively associated with difficulties in following complex treatment regimen, and to assess if depression scores measured by the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) were associated with higher levels of perceived stigmatization and lower levels of treatment adherence. This included women between 24 and 36-weeks’ gestation, current patients in High-Risk Obstetrics Clinic at a large Midwest Hospital and had a diagnosis of GD. Medical records were utilized to confirm diagnosis of GD and EPDS scores. Participants were asked survey questions over the phone. Pearson Correlations were utilized to examine the relationship between treatment adherence and stigmatization in women with GD. Results showed a statistically significant positive relationship between stigma and treatment adherence. However, the study found that depression had no impact on stigma and/or treatment adherence. Future research should focus on if patients have a comprehensive understanding of a treatment regimen. Furthermore, exploring the relationship specifically between patients, providers, and treatment adherence.