Empowering Providers to Empower Their Patients: One Model to Expand Knowledge, Competency, and Awareness for the Perinatal Substance Use Workforce


Perinatal substance use (PSU) is a serious and growing public health concern. It is associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes for both mother and child and has been shown to negatively impact the parent-child relationship. Despite the growing prevalence of PSU, there are notable deficits in provider knowledge regarding, and comfortability with, PSU. Moreover, providers report feelings of judgment, resentment, fear, and hesitancy related to their work with women with PSU. Subsequently, women with PSU struggle to find appropriate, compassionate, and effective treatment for their substance misuse. Widespread and accessible training is needed to bolster provider knowledge base, reduce stigma, shame, and increase quality of service provision and care for women with PSU. This paper aims to outline the development and structure of a PSU training to serve as a one model to expand knowledge, competency, and awareness for the PSU workforce. I begin with a review of the prevalence of PSU and its impact on maternal and infant wellbeing. Theoretical underpinnings of PSU are explored, including a specific discussion regarding the interplay between the neurobiology of addiction and the parent-child attachment system. Subsequently, the current state of the PSU workforce and the need for training is discussed. The paper ends with an in-depth review of a PSU training developed in collaboration with the University of Denver, Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Colorado chapter of Postpartum Support International (PSI). Implications for the field and potential future directions are explored

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This paper was published in University of Denver.

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