School of Health and Human Sciences

“We Have to Keep Advocating and Helping and Doing What We Can”: Examining Perinatal Substance Use Services in the Absence of Integrated Treatment Programs

Dr. Tracy R. Nichols, Dr. Meredith R. Gringle, Dr. Amber Welbore, Amy Lee, MPH (05/2022)

Effective treatment of substance-exposed pregnancies requires gender-responsive care coordinated across agencies and systems. A deeper understanding of the perspectives, experience, and practices of professionals providing these services is needed to improve care. This study examines service provision for perinatal substance use through the perspectives and experiences of healthcare and social service professionals. Using a constructivist grounded theory design, data were collected over a 7-year period. Data collection consisted of interviews and focus groups with professionals as well as observations of professional meetings and workshops where practices and procedures were discussed. A multi-level model of service delivery is described. The role of affect, particularly around issues of custody, is discussed along with structural level actions that develop in the absence of integrated treatment. Structural support both within and across systems of care is crucial to developing coordinated and compassionate care and to increasing engagement in care services.