Doulas Try to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes for Addicted Women

The Northern New Jersey Maternal/Child Health Consortium collaborated with five northern New Jersey agencies to design and develop a project to improve pregnancy outcomes for drug-addicted women in Paterson, N.J.

Some 14 trained lay personnel, called doulas, assisted these women during and after pregnancy. Through home visits, the doulas sought to build trust, provide emotional support, and reduce barriers to proper prenatal and postpartum care.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) New Jersey Health Initiatives program.

Key Results

  • Some 111 pregnant women were enrolled in the program, 50 in the doula intervention and 60 women in a control group.
  • Women in the doula intervention group did not have better pregnancy outcomes than the comparison group. This was thought to be caused in part by client mistrust, reluctance of clients to make a commitment, and inability to make the doula appointment a priority.