Prevalence of Opioid Use and Intimate Partner Violence among Pregnant Women in South-Central Appalachia, USA

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Recent research indicates that pregnant women in rural communities are at increased risk of experiencing IPV and comorbid illicit opioid use compared to urban-residing pregnant women. Few studies of the interactions among rurality, substance use, and victimization in pregnant women exist. The current study sought to examine the relationship between IPV and opioid use and the interaction effects of rurality in Appalachian pregnant women. A convenience sample of pregnant women who were enrolled in a smoking cessation research study was used for this analysis. Participants included 488 pregnant women from five prenatal clinics in South-Central Appalachia. Data were from self-reported assessments and semi-structured interviews on substance use and IPV conducted from first trimester of pregnancy through eight months postpartum. Four hundred and ten participants reported experiencing any form of IPV in the past year. Logistic regression results indicated that physical IPV was associated with opioid use, but sexual and psychological IPV were not. The moderation model indicated direct effects between IPV and opioid use, but were not moderated by rurality. This study suggests a need to further understand the relationship between substance use, IPV, and rurality in pregnant women. The specific subtopic of opioid use by pregnant women living in rural communities, and its relationship to IPV victimization and adverse fetal and maternal health outcomes, continues to be an understudied, but critically important area. Limitations and future directions pertaining to IPV screenings and interventions for pregnant women are discussed.