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Family Planning Services, Opioid-Related Disorders, Pregnancy, Unplanned



  1. Auerbach, Samantha L. MSN, WHNP-BC, ANP-C
  2. Agbemenu, Kafuli PhD, MPH, RN, CTN-A
  3. Ely, Gretchen E. PhD
  4. Lorenz, Rebecca PhD, RN


Background: Opioid use among reproductive-age women has greatly increased, resulting in high rates of opioid-exposed pregnancies, which are associated with negative outcomes, such as neonatal abstinence syndrome. Prevention of unintended pregnancy among opioid users is a critical pathway to reducing opioid-exposed pregnancies; however, little is known about pregnancy intention in this group. This article estimates the prevalence of unintended pregnancy among opioid-using women, thereby supporting efforts to develop interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy.


Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and CINAHL, in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses framework. Reference lists of articles were searched. Eligibility criteria included reported unintended pregnancy rates within a population of opioid-using women of reproductive age. The search was completed in July 2018 and updated in October 2019.


Results: We identified 115 citations, screened 64 titles/abstracts, reviewed 31 full-text articles, and included 12 articles for this review. Rates of unintended pregnancy in opioid users were estimated in two ways, across the lifetime and for a current pregnancy, depending on study samples. Rates for both groups were high, with rates among currently pregnant opioid-using women (85%) compared with 45% among the general population.


Conclusions and Implications: Unintended pregnancy rates in opioid-using women were strikingly high, indicating a critical need for intervention. Routine inclusion of pregnancy planning in opioid treatment care is indicated. Education regarding contraception and opioid treatment services is essential for nurses in these settings. Family planning and opioid treatment efforts can be optimized by care coordination, with focus on nurse training for screening and patient education.