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Around 5% of pregnant women in England and Wales are affected by pre-existing or gestational diabetes and this figure is increasing.1  Diabetes in pregnancy is associated with a range of complications and adverse birth outcomes including macrosomia, large for gestational age, pre-eclampsia, induction, shoulder dystocia, caesarean section, and perinatal mortality.2 3  One of the top ten research priorities identified by women and healthcare professionals in the Diabetes and Pregnancy Priority Setting Partnership (PSP), was about the labour and birth experiences of women with diabetes and how to enhance choice and shared-decision making for these women.6  The ‘long-list’ of questions also included, for example, “When is it safe for women with diabetes to give birth in a midwifery unit compared with a hospital birth?” 

The aim of this project is to address one or more of the key PSP research questions to provide evidence to improve the labour and birth experiences of women with diabetes in the UK.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH METHODS AND TRAINING

The project will enable the student to develop a wide range of research skills that may include: systematic reviewing; management, analysis and interpretation of observational epidemiological data; qualitative interviewing and analysis; patient and public involvement; writing for publication and presentation at scientific meetings.

Specific components of the project are likely to include:

  • Systematic review
  • Analysis of primary data from a national cohort study carried out using the UK Midwifery Study System (UKMidSS) to investigate outcomes for women with diabetes (pre-existing or gestational) who are admitted to a UK midwifery unit for labour care.
  • Qualitative interviews with women with diabetes, to explore their labour and birth experiences in relation to choice/shared decision-making
  • Interviews/focus groups with midwives and other relevant health professionals to explore reflections on and challenges to improving the labour and birth experiences of women with diabetes.

FIELD WORK, SECONDMENTS, INDUSTRY PLACEMENTS AND TRAINING

Based in the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, the student will be part of a thriving and stimulating multi-disciplinary research environment. Training will be provided in systematic reviewing, data management and analytic methods using Stata, and qualitative interviewing and analysis.  The student will also have access to a range of training in transferable and research skills provided by the University of Oxford.

PROSPECTIVE STUDENT

This project is suitable for a student with previous training and/or a qualification in epidemiology or public health, an interest in maternal health, and enthusiasm for developing quantitative and qualitative research skills.  Midwifery/obstetric experience may be an advantage, but is not essential.

Supervisors