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OHSU receives more than $3 million to study effects of Project Nurture rural expansion

Five-year analysis will observe impacts of novel substance abuse treatment program for pregnant individuals, help identify opportunities for future growth, implementation
A pregnant woman with long dark hair stretches her arms open in a sunlit forest and smiles.
After much success in helping pregnant women with substance abuse and lower rates of child maltreatment and foster care placement, Project Nurture has earned a community expansion grant. (Getty Images)

Since its inception in 2015, Project Nurture, an innovative program model integrating maternity care, substance use treatment, and social service coordination in the Portland-Metro area, has helped to increase prenatal care visits for pregnant individuals, while also lowering rates of child maltreatment and foster care placement.

Given its initial success, the Oregon Health Authority Health Systems Division has begun efforts to expand the Project Nurture model to rural and underserved communities in Deschutes, Jackson, Lincoln, Malheur and Umatilla counties.  

Funded by a $3 million research grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1 RO1 HD105348-01A1), part of the National Institutes of Health, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University will assess the implementation of the expansion program, now called Nurture Oregon. Over the course of five years, the OHSU team will observe and analyze Nurture Oregon’s:

  • Key outcomes related to maternal and infant health, as well as child welfare
  • Differential outcomes for pregnant individuals diagnosed with opioid, methamphetamine and polysubstance use disorders
  • Impact on Medicaid expenditures, with focus on implications for long-term sustainability.
  Deb Cohen, Ph.D. (OHSU)

“Over the past two decades, we have seen an alarming increase in the prevalence of maternal substance use disorders during pregnancy in the United States,” says the study’s principal investigator Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., a professor and research vice chair of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. “While many programs have been developed to help limit the occurrence of maternal substance use – and the risk for adverse outcomes such as preterm labor, preeclampsia or low birth weight -- very few have shown the success and longevity of Nurture Oregon. Through our analysis, we hope to identify and establish evidence that will allow the replication of the Nurture Oregon model in other states across the U.S., once again showcasing Oregon as a leader in innovative health care delivery.”


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