Hospital care for opioid use disorder in pregnancy: Challenges and opportunities identified from a Minnesota survey

Alana Dopp, Morgan Zabel Thornton, Katy Kozhimannil, Cresta W. Jones, Brenna Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The prevalence of opioid use disorder continues to rise in the United States, with a simultaneous increase in the diagnosis of both opioid use disorder during pregnancy and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Despite these increases in pregnancy-related care, little is known about hospital policy and policy implementation related to opioid use disorder in pregnancy. In addition, it is unknown whether policies might differ in rural or urban hospitals. To better examine these issues, Minnesota hospitals were surveyed regarding the existence and implementation of policies related to opioid use disorder in pregnancy and whether any policy implementation challenges had been identified. Methods: From August to December 2017, the research team contacted all Minnesota hospitals that offered obstetric services (n = 82) to survey challenges to implementing policies for opioid use disorder during pregnancy, among other questions. Fifty-nine hospitals had respondents (primarily obstetric department supervisors) who provided information about policy implementation challenges for a 72% response rate. Qualitative responses were analyzed using qualitative description and according to hospital location: metropolitan (urban), micropolitan (rural), or non-core (rural). Results: Ninety-one percent of respondents said that they had pregnancies affected by opioid use disorder at their hospital within the last year. Four major challenges to policy implementation were identified in qualitative responses: (1) provider consensus, (2) patient response to policy, (3) lack of resources, and (4) low frequency of occurrence. All four challenges were more frequently identified by respondents at rural hospitals compared to urban hospitals. Conclusion: This study identified challenges in standardizing hospital care for pregnancies affected by opioid use disorder, and these challenges were identified more frequently in rural locations. These non-urban hospitals may require increased state and federal support and funding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWomen's Health
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, Medical Student Summer Research Program (Dopp and Zabel Thornton and Supervisor: Dr Greenfield).


  • health policy
  • hospitals
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • opioid use disorder

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