Project Summary

PCORI has identified treatment for opioid use disorder among pregnant women, with a focus on maternal and neonatal outcomes, as an important research topic. To compare the effectiveness of different treatment approaches, PCORI launched an initiative in 2017 on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Delivery for Pregnant Women with Substance Use Disorders Involving Prescription Opioids and/or Heroin. The initiative funded this research project.

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Opioid use disorder, or OUD, increases health risks for pregnant women and their babies. Babies born to women with OUD may be born early, be underweight, or have withdrawal from opioids. In Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, between 5 and 8 percent of newborns have mothers with OUD.

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, can reduce the risk of complications for women with OUD and their babies. But it can be hard for pregnant women to find doctors who offer MAT. This study is comparing two ways for pregnant women to receive MAT for OUD. One way is for clinics that care for pregnant women to provide MAT during patient visits. A second way is for these clinics to refer women to clinics that specialize in treating OUD. The study is also looking at what other types of services, such as mental health treatment, are most useful in helping women continue treatment for OUD.

Who can this research help?

Clinics, doctors, nurses, and others can use results from this study when considering the best ways to provide MAT to pregnant women with OUD.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is recruiting 2,000 pregnant women with OUD who get care at 21 maternity clinics in rural and suburban areas across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Some of the maternity clinics provide MAT for OUD on-site. Others refer patients to different clinics to get MAT for OUD.

The research team is checking the women’s health records to see if they have problems with their pregnancies and whether their babies have opioid withdrawal. In addition, the team is collecting data about services the clinics offer, like parenting classes or mental health care. Finally, the team is using surveys and interviews to ask doctors at the 21 clinics about their views on the two ways of offering MAT to pregnant women with OUD.

The research team is using the data they collect to compare the health results for women and their babies. The team is talking to a smaller group of women six months after their babies are born about

  • Depression, anxiety, quality of life, and their experience with the care they received
  • Their pregnancy and any complications
  • Whether they are in treatment for OUD during pregnancy and shortly after giving birth
  • Whether they keep custody of their babies
  • Whether they bring their babies in for the recommended visits

The research team is also looking at what makes a difference in whether pregnant women continue OUD treatment. These things may include mental health concerns, the medicine used for treatment, and the severity of OUD. They are also looking at what other maternity clinic services, like counseling, care coordination, or parenting education may improve health results for pregnant women. Finally, the team is looking at how maternity care doctors’ views about treating OUD with medicine affect pregnant women’s health results.

Women who have had OUD during pregnancy, clinicians, insurers, and addiction recovery counselors are working with the research team to plan and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Observational: mixed-methods study
Population Pregnant adults who receive prenatal care from a participating clinic and meet DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for OUD 
  • Integrated MAT
  • Referral-based MAT

Primary: illicit opioid use, MAT treatment engagement and retention during pregnancy and early postpartum, pregnancy and complications, depression and anxiety, experience of care

Secondary: other illicit substance use, neonatal complications, infant treatment for neonatal withdrawal, maintenance of child custody, quality of life, adherence to recommended infant care visits

Timeframe Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 6-month follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Sarah Lord, PhD
Daisy Goodman, DNP, MPH, CNM
Trustees of Dartmouth College
Moms in Recovery (MORE): Defining Optimal Care for Pregnant Women and Infants

Key Dates

April 2018
June 2024

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 24, 2024