Barriers to screening pregnant women for alcohol or other drugs: A narrative synthesis Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND:Maternal alcohol or other drug use during pregnancy is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes for mothers and their unborn child. The antenatal period presents an opportunity for health professionals to offer routine screening for alcohol or other drugs, to then provide intervention and referral for treatment and/or specialised support services. However, literature indicates that limited screening practices currently exist in maternity care settings. AIM:To identify barriers to screening pregnant women for alcohol or other drugs in maternity care settings, from the perspectives of healthcare professionals. METHODS:A comprehensive literature search was conducted in October 2017 to identify relevant studies. Seven databases that index health and social sciences literature, and google scholar, were searched. Eligible articles were subjected to critical appraisal. Extracted data from the eligible studies were synthesised using narrative synthesis. FINDINGS:Nine studies were eligible for this review. The review identified seven key barriers to screening for alcohol or other drugs in pregnancy, namely competing priorities and time constraint; lack of adequate screening skills and clear protocol; relationship between healthcare providers and pregnant women; healthcare providers' perceptions; under-reporting or none/false disclosure; inconclusive evidence regarding the risk of alcohol or other drug use in pregnancy; and concerns about guilt and anxiety. CONCLUSIONS:The narrative review revealed a range of barriers to screening for alcohol or other drugs in pregnancy. Further research in minimising the barriers is required to establish women-centred, evidence-base screening practices.

publication date

  • 2018