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Barriers to Seeking Help Among Intimate Partner Violence Survivors with Opioid Use Disorder

September 15, 2021

Recently published in the journal International Review of Psychiatry, researchers including UPMC’s Elizabeth Krans, MD, and Judy Chang, MD, MPH, identified the barriers that survivors with opioid use disorder (OUD) face when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. 

Intimate partner violence is a common problem among those with OUD, but little research has been done regarding the barriers that survivors face when trying to leave. 

“Pregnant women with substance use disorders often face profound social, economic, and physical challenges, which require a multi-faceted approach to health care delivery,” said Dr. Krans. 
Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 40 postpartum women with OUD. Multiple barriers were identified including control of money and resources, fear of violent retaliation, and concerns related to police and child welfare. 

Survivors suggested that clinicians and policymakers can better meet the needs of survivors attempting to leave an abusive relationship by prioritizing ways to help survivors overcome these barriers. 

“I believe that the communication between patients and their clinicians is central to providing appropriate quality medical care and promoting wellness and healing” said Dr. Chang. “Understanding their concerns, fears, and what they want and are ready to try is important to providing appropriate and effective care.” 

Learn more here.


Phillips H, Lyon E, Krans EE, Warshaw C, Chang JC, Pallatino C. Barriers to help-seeking among intimate partner violence survivors with opioid use disorder. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 6:1-9. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2021.1898350. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34229551. 

About Dr. Krans

Elizabeth Krans, MD, is an assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences with a focus on the relationship between obstetric care uses and maternal and neonatal outcomes in women with substance use disorder. Learn more about Dr. Krans’ research and her work in the Pregnancy Recovery Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.

About Dr. Chang

Judy Chang, MD, MPH, is an associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and associate professor of internal medicine with focuses on patient-provider communication and intimate partner violence. Learn more about Dr. Chang’s research.