Theses Master's

Prenatal Substance Use, Healthcare Interventions, and Social Stigma: A Scoping Review

Ripple, Madeleine

Prenatal substance use in the United States, particularly of illicit drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and opioids, increased by 43%, or 40,000 individuals, between 2019 and 2020 (SAMHSA, 2022). Where there is a breadth of healthcare interventions to support pregnant individuals with substance use, such services' utilization remains low (MACPAC, 2020). Researchers have identified social stigma as a barrier to healthcare utilization for pregnant individuals engaging in substance use, citing punitive policy landscapes and shame associated with motherhood and substance use as driving factors of this stigma. While the same research distinguishing stigma's roots also identifies intervention points to address stigma, no review has synthesized how the existing clinical responses to prenatal substance use have altered, reinforced, or had no effect on the social dynamics shaping prenatal substance use-related stigma in healthcare contexts. Via a literature review, this thesis examines how healthcare interventions for prenatal substance use may influence social stigma. Findings suggest that healthcare interventions could impact individual internalized stigma and that punitive policies across the United States that criminalize substance use during pregnancy limit these effects. Further research and interventions must more explicitly examine how healthcare interventions impact social stigma to more consciously develop interventions that support physical, emotional, and social well-being and act as a buffer between pregnant patients and punitive policies.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Colgrove, James K.
M.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
April 28, 2023