Adherence trajectories of buprenorphine therapy among pregnant women in a large state Medicaid program in the United States

Wei Hsuan Lo-Ciganic, Julie M. Donohue, Joo Yeon Kim, Elizabeth E. Krans, Bobby L. Jones, David Kelley, Alton E. James, Marian P. Jarlenski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: Little is known about the longitudinal patterns of buprenorphine adherence among pregnant women with opioid use disorder, especially when late initiation, nonadherence, or early discontinuation of buprenorphine during pregnancy may increase the risk of adverse outcomes. We aimed to identify distinct trajectories of buprenorphine use during pregnancy, and factors associated with these trajectories in Medicaid-enrolled pregnant women. Methods: A retrospective cohort study included 2361 Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees aged 15 to 46 having buprenorphine therapy during pregnancy and a live birth between 2008 and 2015. We used group-based trajectory models to identify buprenorphine use patterns in the 40 weeks prior to delivery and 12 weeks postdelivery. Multivariable multinomial logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with specific trajectories. Results: Six distinct trajectories were identified. Four groups initiated buprenorphine during the first trimester of the pregnancy (early initiators): 31.6% with persistently high adherence, 15.1% with moderate-to-high adherence, 10.5% with declining adherence, and 16.7% with early discontinuation. Two groups did not initiate buprenorphine until midsecond or third trimester (late initiators): 13.5% had moderate-to-high adherence and 12.6% had low-to-moderate adherence. Factors significantly associated with late initiation and discontinuation were younger age, non-white race, residents of rural counties, fewer outpatient visits, more frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and lower buprenorphine daily dose. Conclusions: Six buprenorphine treatment trajectories during pregnancy were identified in this population-based Medicaid cohort, with 25% of women initiating buprenorphine late during pregnancy. Understanding trajectories of buprenorphine use and factors associated with discontinuation/nonadherence may guide integration of behavioral treatment with obstetrical/gynecological care to improve buprenorphine treatment during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Medicaid
  • adherence
  • buprenorphine
  • group-based trajectory models
  • opioid use disorder
  • pharmacoepidemiology
  • pregnant
  • trajectory


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