Clinician perspectives on the postpartum pain experience and attitudes about pain management

Project: Research project

Project Details


Opioid misuse has been declared a national emergency in the United States. More than half of hospitalized patients receive an opioid during their hospitalization. As birth is the most common reason for hospitalization, reproductive-aged individuals are particularly vulnerable to opioid exposure and are an important population for addressing the opioid epidemic. Indeed, our data have demonstrated the high frequency of postpartum inpatient and outpatient opioid use, the wide variation in postpartum pain management, the lack of alignment of opioid prescribing with patient reports of pain, and the contributions of obstetric clinicians to opioid prescribing. The opioid epidemic has a differential impact by race/ethnicity; individuals of minority race/ethnicity are less likely to receive an opioid for pain management than non-Hispanic White individuals. Notably, our data show that, despite reporting higher levels of pain postpartum, minority race/ethnicity birthing individuals receive less opioid treatment as inpatients and are less frequently prescribed an opioid upon hospital discharge. A complete understanding and, ultimately improvement, of these experiences and reduction in disparities requires a deeper delve into influences which guide clinicians in their management of postpartum pain. This proposal aims to fill an unmet need for a systematic, in-depth, and unbiased evaluation of obstetric clinicians’ experience of postpartum pain management. We propose a prospective qualitative study of obstetric clinicians, examining factors which influence their approach to postpartum pain management, biases which may contribute to disparities, and their perspectives and preferences of interventions to reduce opioids and improve pain control. We will conduct in-depth focus groups of up to 50 obstetric clinicians, including physicians, advanced practitioners, and nurses. Aim 1 will evaluate beliefs and factors which influence clinicians’ management of postpartum pain, including potential clinician-level biases which may contribute to disparities. Using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Science, Aim 2 will evaluate clinicians’ perspectives and preferences of interventions to reducing postpartum opioid prescribing and improving pain control, in order to optimize the implementation of future interventions. Optimizing postpartum health, reducing opioid overuse, and reducing disparities in care and outcomes are critical goals of major professional societies and the NICHD 2020 strategic plan. In combination with patient-focused research on postpartum pain management (3R01HD098178-02S1), this work aims to create an essential foundation from which to develop and implement effective and equitable interventions to optimize postpartum opioid prescribing and pain management.
Effective start/end date9/20/228/31/24


  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1R03HD112103-01)


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