Exploring Perinatal Nursing Care for Opioid Use Disorder: Knowledge, Stigma, and Compassion.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing


washington; swedish


The opioid epidemic has greatly increased the number of pregnant women with opioid use and newborns exposed to opioids in utero. Mothers with opioid use disorder can face stigma by nurses in perinatal care settings, contributing to negative care experiences. A survey was distributed to nurses caring for mothers and newborns exposed to opioids in a large urban hospital in the Pacific Northwest United States (n = 89) from March to July 2019. Survey measures included participant characteristics, attitude toward substance use in pregnancy and postpartum (stigma, compassion satisfaction, comfort, and knowledge), and open-ended questions. Relationships among variables and questionnaire items were examined using Pearson's correlations, 2-sample t tests, and simultaneous multiple linear regression. Qualitative description was used to analyze open-ended questions. Nurses' stigma was negatively correlated with compassion satisfaction (r = -0.63), feeling knowledgeable (r = -0.36), and comfortable in providing care to this population (r = -0.44). Nurses identified defensiveness, lack of trust, and inadequate social support as key challenges in this patient population. Nurses suggested more support for mothers and nurses, increased nursing education, and clinical guidelines to improve clinical practice and foster therapeutic relationships. Findings highlight potential strategies to improve nursing care for chemically dependent mothers and their infants. These strategies may offer practical approaches to reduce stigma, develop therapeutic relationships, and improve patient outcomes.

Clinical Institute

Women & Children

Clinical Institute

Mental Health


Obstetrics & Gynecology


Behavioral Health