Pregnant women are about 20% less likely to get an appointment with an addiction treatment provider than non-pregnant women, a new study finds.
The study found there were substantial barriers for both pregnant and non-pregnant women who attempted to gain access to treatment, including a large percentage of clinicians who did not accept insurance and required cash payment for an appointment.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University used trained actors who tried to get an appointment with addiction providers in 10 states. The researchers created more than 10,000 unique patient profiles. The actors attempted to get appointments with 6,324 clinicians.
Callers representing pregnant women were able to make appointments 61% of the time, compared with 74% of callers representing pregnant women.
“We have been in the middle of an epidemic of opioid overdose for years now. There are just too many barriers into getting treatment. We are still setting record levels of overdose deaths in the U.S., likely made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic,” lead author Stephen Patrick, M.D., said in a university news release. “We know these medicines save lives; it shouldn’t be this hard to get them.”