Trends and disparities in receipt of pharmacotherapy among pregnant women in publically funded treatment programs for opioid use disorder in the United States

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2018 Jun;89:67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2018.04.003. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Objective: To describe differences in geographic, demographic, treatment, and substance use characteristics by pharmacotherapy receipt among pregnant women entering publically funded treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) in the United States.

Methods: 1996 to 2014 Treatment Episode Data Set-Admissions data from pregnant admissions with OUD, defined as reporting opioids as the primary substance of use leading to the treatment episode, were analyzed for this cross-sectional study. The proportion of all pregnant admissions with OUD who received pharmacotherapy was calculated by year and U.S. census region. Trends across time were assessed using the Cochrane-Armitage Trend test. Associations between demographic, substance use, and treatment characteristics and pharmacotherapy receipt were assessed using Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression.

Results: The proportion of pregnant admissions where opioids were the primary substance of use increased from 16.9% to 41.6% during the study period, while the proportion of pregnant admissions with OUD who received pharmacotherapy remained relatively unchanged at around 50%. Overall, pharmacotherapy recipients were generally older and white, more likely to receive treatment in an outpatient setting, be self-referred, and report heroin as the primary substance, daily substance use, and intravenous drug use, and less likely to have a co-occurring psychiatric problem compared to those who did not receive pharmacotherapy. Regional differences in pharmacotherapy utilization exist; the South consistently had the fewest pregnant admissions with OUD receiving pharmacotherapy.

Conclusion: Although the proportion of pregnant admissions to substance use treatment centers with OUD has increased since the mid-1990s, the proportion receiving pharmacotherapy has not changed. Significant variations in pharmacotherapy utilization exist by geography and demographic, substance use and treatment characteristics. Utilization of pharmacotherapy at publically funded treatment centers providing care for pregnant women with OUD should be expanded.

Keywords: Disparities; Opioid use disorder; Pharmacotherapy; Pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Therapy / trends*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult