Women’s opinions of legal requirements for drug testing in prenatal care

Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, Fatima Mckenzie, MacKenzie B. Austgen, Aaron E. Carroll, Eric M. Meslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: To explore women’s attitudes and perceptions regarding legal requirements for prenatal drug testing. Methods: Web-based survey of 500 US women (age 18–45) recruited from a market research survey panel. A 24-item questionnaire assessed their opinion of laws requiring doctors to routinely verbal screen and urine drug test patients during pregnancy; recommendations for consequences for positive drug tests during pregnancy; and opinion of laws requiring routine drug testing of newborns. Additional questions asked participants about the influence of such laws on their own care-seeking behaviors. Data were analyzed for associations between participant characteristics and survey responses using Pearson’s chi-squared test. Results: The majority of respondents (86%) stated they would support a law requiring verbal screening of all pregnant patients and 73% would support a law requiring universal urine drug testing in pregnancy. Fewer respondents were willing to support laws that required verbal screening or urine drug testing (68% and 61%, respectively) targeting only Medicaid recipients. Twenty-one percent of respondents indicated they would be offended if their doctors asked them about drug use and 14% indicated that mandatory drug testing would discourage prenatal care attendance. Conclusion: Women would be more supportive of policies requiring universal rather than targeted screening and testing for prenatal drug use. However, a noteworthy proportion of women would be discouraged from attending prenatal care–a reminder that drug testing policies may have detrimental effects on maternal child health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1693-1698
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 18 2017


  • Substance abuse
  • drug testing
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • prenatal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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