Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

Mary L. Held

Committee Members

Courtney Cronley, Patricia M. Bamwine, Sandra P. Thomas


Mothers who have Opioid Use Disorders and their infants are routinely served by medical systems across the United States. Trauma-informed care (TIC) has gained in reputation and been recommended for implementation in medical settings including those that serve these mother-infant dyads such as Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) settings. The experiences of these mother-infant dyads in health care settings and the experience of health care providers caring for these mother-infant dyads have not been thoroughly investigated. This dissertation targets the need for these data and is comprised of three studies. Study One is a systematic review of the research literature exploring the prevalence of trauma experiences for mothers with opioid use disorders (OUDs), and the state of TIC and services in medical settings that serve pregnant women and mothers with young children who have OUDs, examining both mothers’ experiences and providers’ reports. Study Two analyzes trauma-informed beliefs and perspectives, previous training, practice behaviors, and self-efficacy of NICU nurses and social workers who work with mother-infant dyads impacted by in utero opioid/opiate exposure using a cross-sectional anonymous online survey. Study Three qualitatively explores the lived experiences of NICU nurses and social workers providing TIC to mother-infant dyads impacted by in utero opioid exposure. Implications for social work and future directions are identified at the end of each study.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."