Screening and brief interventions for alcohol and other drug use among pregnant women attending midwife obstetric units in Cape Town, South Africa: a qualitative study of the views of health care professionals
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Despite the negative consequences of alcohol and other drug use during pregnancy, few interventions for pregnant women are
implemented, and little is known about their feasibility and acceptability in primary health care settings in South Africa. As part of the formative phase of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for substance use among women presenting for antenatal care, the present study explored health care workers' attitudes and perceptions about screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment among this population. Forty-three health care providers at 2 public sector midwife obstetric units in Cape Town, South Africa, were interviewed using an open-ended, semi structured interview schedule designed to identify factors that hinder or support the implementation of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for substance use in these settings. Transcribed interviews were analysed using the framework approach. Health care providers agreed that there is a substantial need for screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for substance use among pregnant women and believe such services potentially could be integrated into routine care. Several women-, staff-, and clinic-level barriers were identified that could hinder the successful implementation in antenatal services. These barriers included the nondisclosure of alcohol and other drug use, the intervention being considered as an add-on service or additional work, negative staff attitudes toward implementation of an intervention, poor staff communication styles such as berating women for their behaviour, lack of interest from staff, time constraints, staff shortages, overburdened workloads, and language barriers. The utility of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for addressing substance use among pregnant women in public health midwife obstetric units was supported, but consideration will need to be given to addressing a variety of barriers that have been identified.