Management of opioid use disorder among pregnant people in jail

The PIPS study found that many pregnant people with opioid use disorder enter jails and prisons. While the standard of care for pregnant people with opioid use disorder (OUD) is to be on medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) with methadone or buprenorphine, this care is not consistently available, meaning that pregnant people in custody are being forced to go through withdrawal. 


This study focuses on jails, recognizing that they are embedded in communities and that pregnant people with OUD entering jails need appropriate care and linkages to services when they return to the community. We are first conducting a national survey of jail administrators to document the availability of MOUD for pregnant people, followed by in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. The second phase of the study will explore the perspectives and experiences of the directly impacted people, pregnant people with OUD in jail. In the third phase, we will design a menu-based, strategy informed by this formative research, with various components that jails can adapt to their setting to provide patient-centered, standard MOUD care to pregnant people.  


This study is funded by a research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


Pregnant, incarcerated people’s experiences with decision making and care

We are currently conducting a qualitative, interview-based study with incarcerated pregnant people in a jail and a prison each in 2 different states to explore the experiences of imprisoned, pregnant people and their pregnancy care during incarceration. Interviews focus on how the environment of confinement influences various decisions they make about their pregnancies.  


Findings can inform programs, services, and policies to better serve these people and their families, and to ensure they have adequate access to healthcare while pregnant and incarcerated. This study complements the quantitative data we gathered for the PIPS study, recognizing that each number in PIPS represents the experience of a pregnant person behind bars. It is critical to have a deeper understanding of the perspectives of incarcerated women about the choices available to them so that jails and prisons can optimize the care they receive to ensure healthy outcomes for mothers and babies.