Pregnant women face obstacles in obtaining opioid use disorder treatment, study finds

Pregnant women experience particular difficulty accessing opioid use disorder treatments, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers conducted the study by making 11,000 appointment requests for women to more than 6,300 care providers. They found patients who said they were pregnant were 17 percent less likely to be accepted for an appointment with a physician licensed to provide buprenorphine, a drug that can treat opioid misuse as well as lessen the risk of preterm birth.

The study also revealed that one-third of opioid misuse treatment programs gave appointment slots only to patients who said they would pay cash. The same was true for about 25 percent of physicians authorized to provide buprenorphine.

Four percent of family physicians and just 1 percent of women's health physicians have licenses to provide buprenorphine, so patients looking for treatment from these providers are likely to face obstacles.

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