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Primary Outcome Measures:

Maternal substance use during pregnancy (including legal and illicit substances) is a fairly common global phenomenon, including in the UK. This can have significant effects on pregnancy, infant outcome and enduring consequences into adolescence. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome may spend months in neonatal care units, requiring complex, 24hour care. Here, healthcare workers may experience conflict between preserving maternal autonomy, and the challenge of caring for a withdrawing newborn.

However, there is discrepancy between the objectives of policy-makers “Reducing the harm to children from parental problem drug use should become a main objective of policy and practice” and those recommended in healthcare “These women need supportive and coordinated care during pregnancy.” Therefore, conflict arises between mother-centred and child-centred models of caring for pregnant women who use substances.

The objective of the proposed project is to investigate how healthcare workers providing treatment for pregnant women who use illicit substances perceive their duty of care and whether they experience tension between the conflicting objectives of mother-centred and child-centred approaches through semi-structured qualitative interviews. The investigators will explore the ways in which healthcare workers frame problematic substance misuse in pregnant women, what they perceive to be the major challenges in providing care and their views on the responsibility of a mother to have a healthy baby. The main hypothesis is that healthcare workers providing care for pregnant women engaging in problematic substance misuse experience conflict between mother-centred and child- centred approaches to care.