DiPietro JL, Mackiewicz Seghete KL, Krans EE, et al. Stakeholder Perspectives on Advancing Understanding of Prenatal Opioid Exposure and Brain Development From the iOPEN Consortium of the Healthy Brain and Child Development Study. Front. Psychol., 30 July 2021, Sec. Developmental Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.698766
Introduction: There is a dire need for research regarding the implications of opioid use during pregnancy on fetal and childhood development to better inform both medical practice and policy. The Healthy Brain and Child Development Study will examine brain and behavioral development from birth through the first decade of life. Due to large scope and anticipated complexity of this initiative, an 18-month planning phase was implemented across 28 sites across the nation. A core element of the Phase I initiative involved the development of Stakeholder Advisory Committees to inform the next phase of the initiative.
Methods: Phase I stakeholder meetings were conducted at Oregon Health and Science University, New York University Langone Medical Center, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Vermont to better understand perspectives and inform upcoming research. Despite differences in the structure of the stakeholder meetings by site, the overarching goals for the meetings included establishing relationships, gathering input, and learning about research engagement. Documents from each meeting were reviewed for location, duration, attendees, common research themes, and pertinent suggestions for improving research approaches.
Results: All stakeholders had high levels of interest in research for pregnant people with substance use disorders and agreed on research priorities including collaboration, connection, communication, and support. Different stakeholders offered unique perspectives on various aspects of study design and themes that emerged through meetings.
Discussion: Overall, there was excitement about the research, especially the opportunity to include the voices of people with lived experience; collaboration between providers, peer support specialists, patients, and others; and excitement around contributing to research that could elucidate new and pertinent findings in the realm of addiction medicine and child development. Sites also found that there is mistrust between people with substance use disorder and the medical system, and this could be addressed by including people with lived experience on the research team, forming connections, communicating clearly, training the research team in implicit bias, and practicing trauma-informed care. In conclusion, these stakeholder meetings provided valuable information for structuring upcoming studies; however, researchers would have benefitted from more time and more opportunities for in-person connection.