Project Abstract

Comprehensively addressing perinatal substance use in Colorado requires robust data-informed policy and practice. The Colorado Legislature’s Study Committee on Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders responded to this need with SB19-228, a data linkage project aimed at using administrative records to inform and advance state policies and programs that strengthen families impacted by perinatal substance use (SU) and substance use disorders (SUD).

To elevate family voice and add contextual understanding to the data linkage project, a companion qualitative research study is being done to provide experiential data from birthing individuals with SU/SUD, from pregnancy through the first year postpartum. By including the perceptions and experiences of those with lived expertise, data on barriers and facilitators to cross-system care coordination for family well-being and perinatal health can be understood from multiple vantage points. Pairing lived experience with analysis of administrative data will yield more holistic and constituent-informed intervention and prevention strategies.

To promote resonance, relevance, and rigor of the qualitative research, the study employs individuals with lived expertise as community research assistants. The end goal is identify risk and protective factors that influence access to and successful navigation of SU/SUD treatment, prenatal, postnatal, and infant care, social services, child welfare, and community supports during the childbearing year. The study will focus on the following dimensions of family experience and person-centered outcomes:

  • Facilitators and barriers to cross-system care coordination for the prevention and treatment of SU/SUD during the perinatal period and promotion of infant developmental health and family well-being.
  • Variation in outcomes and experiences for diverse families and communities to understand (in)equity impacts and strategies.
  • Internal and external experiential factors at play in perinatal substance use, the recovery process, and associated health care utilization, social service engagement, community supports, and child welfare involvement.


Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families

Research Partners: 

University of Denver, Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab

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