Understanding Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder

Deborah Stiffler, Mia Amundson, Lauren Hapke, Emilie Harvey, Samantha Sizemore, Savannah Smith


Background: Pregnant women with opioid use disorder are a major concern to the healthcare industry. They are not only one of the most stigmatized groups but are in need of outreach. Women who are afflicted by opioid addiction are a highly vulnerable group who are at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and perinatal complications. The purpose of this study was to do a meta-synthesis of the literature to gain a better understanding of the women’s perspective who are addicted to opioid during pregnancy.

Subjects and Method: We conducted an exhaustive literature search for qualitative studies that focused on women with opioid used disorder during pregnancy and postpartum. After conducting a rigorous methodological protocol for meta-synthesis described by Joanna Briggs Institute, ten studies met the criteria for inclusion into this study. We used the Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument (QARI) from the Joanna Briggs Institute to assist with data management. We extracted the representative quotations and categorized them into like themes.

Results: There were three themes formulated from this meta-synthesis: overarching fear, trust, and educational deficits. This meta-synthesis of qualitative studies leads to a greater understanding of how pregnant women with opioid use disorder perceive the consequences of their actions.

Conclusion: Implications from this meta-synthesis will inform those working with opioid-addicted pregnant women and aid in establishing best practices for them and their infants by revealing their addiction experiences and narratives.

Keywords: opioid use disorder, pregnancy, stigma

Correspondence: Deborah Stiffler. Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Email: dstiffle­

Journal of Maternal and Child Health (2019), 4(6): 461-474


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