The 12 months after childbirth are an especially vulnerable period. With funding from St. David’s Foundation, Altarum helped WIC and community health centers in Central Texas increase screening of new mothers for opioid and other substance misuse and refer them to recovery support services so they can get the help they need.
We used our expertise in recovery services, maternal health, and community health service delivery to overcome the stigma that so often prevents patients from seeking care for substance use disorder, including opioid misuse, and providers from delivering it. During Phase I, we conducted extensive research and discussions with key stakeholders to identify clinical capacity to integrate interventions and referrals and local recovery services. Then, during Phase II, we provided customized training and technical assistance to WIC clinics and community health centers that built upon their existing systems, infrastructure, and capacity.
We successfully introduced a new universal screening tool for opioid use disorder that was merged into providers’ electronic medical record, standardizing the process across all community health centers and increasing referral placements.
WIC and community health center staff who participated in our trainings indicated a substantial increase in knowledge, self-efficacy, and an intent to improve their current practices as a result of our trainings:
- 89% indicated that they intend to change practices as a result of our training.
- 88% rated their ability to discuss postpartum drug use as good, very good, or excellent, as compared to only 39% before the training.
- 100% indicated an increase in awareness of strategies to connect and engage more effectively with patients.
- 78% reported an increase in awareness of warning signs and effects of opioid misuse on women.
Tara Fowler - PhD, MPH, CPH
Vice President, Population HealthAreas of Expertise
- Applied Research and Analytics
- Maternal and Child Health
- Qualitative Research
Tara Fowler leads Altarum's population health work, including in the areas of community health, applied research and analytics, and delivery systems transformation. She has led a variety of multifaceted quantitative and qualitative research projects that deliver insights to leaders of government health agencies, from the Defense Health Agency to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her recent work includes an evaluation of a HRSA-funded program implemented in 16 states to improve oral health of low-income pregnant women and infants. Tara holds a PhD in public health from the University of South Florida.