, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 1127-1134,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 25 Nov 2010

Universal Alcohol/Drug Screening in Prenatal Care: A Strategy for Reducing Racial Disparities? Questioning the Assumptions

Abstract

Agencies and organizations promoting universal screening for alcohol and drug use in prenatal care argue that universal screening will reduce White versus Black racial disparities in reporting to Child Protective Services (CPS) at delivery. Yet, no published research has assessed the impact of universal screening on reporting disparities or explored plausible mechanisms. This review defines two potential mechanisms: Equitable Surveillance and Effective Treatment and identifies assumptions underlying each mechanism. It reviews published literature relating to each assumption. Research relating to assumptions underlying each mechanism is primarily inconclusive or contradictory. Thus, available research does not support the claim that universal screening for alcohol and drug use in prenatal care reduces racial disparities in CPS reporting at delivery. Reducing these reporting disparities requires more than universal screening.