MPH Project Proposal Defense: Amy Cohen
Advisor/Chair: Dr. Amelia Arria
Committee Members: Dr. Kerry Green
Title: Developing an Informative Guide for Clinicians Treating Opioid-Dependent Pregnant Women
Abstract: Nonmedical prescription opioid use has been growing since the early 2000s, contributing to the number of fatal overdoses the United States is experiencing in the current opioid epidemic (Cheng, DeBeck, & Small, 2016). A special population of interest within the larger opioid crisis is opioid-dependent pregnant women, due to the serious health and safety risks that exist for both the mother and fetus due to opioid use (Winklbaur et al., 2008). The current literature indicates that the main method of treating opioid-dependent pregnant women is through medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a process by which the medications methadone or buprenorphine are administered to the woman to help manage their opioid dependence. However, there is a gap in the research reporting any type of comprehensive care that is catered specifically to the treatment of opioid-dependent pregnant women. Thus, the goal of this project is to develop an informative guide to be provided to clinicians who provide care to opioid-dependent women, such as those who work at community-based drug abuse centers or general practitioners that are licensed to provide MAT. The information provided in the guide will outline what comprehensive care in opioid-dependent pregnant women will resemble, i.e. treatment of co-occurring psychiatric illnesses, access to support services in the community, and additional treatments other than MAT to help with additional drug use. This guide will also focus on emphasizing the importance of the therapeutic alliance to clinicians in order to address self-biases and stigmas of the clinician so that care based on shared respect and trust can be delivered to opioid-dependent women. This guide is being developed with the intent on disseminating it to clinicians as part of a recertification process.