First Advisor

Records, Kathie

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While remaining federally illegal, the use of both medical and recreational marijuana in the United States continues to rise as individual state laws become more permissive and its use more socially acceptable. Paralleling this trend, the use of marijuana during pregnancy is also increasing. However legally defined, marijuana use during pregnancy is discouraged and has been associated with serious health concerns for the mother and her infant. Its use during pregnancy is challenging for healthcare providers as it is not well researched and its effects are not clearly understood. While the experiences of perinatal nurses working with women affected by general substance use are well-documented, what is not well understood is how marijuana use by itself is viewed by these nurses. As no previous studies were identified exploring this phenomenon, the three-fold purpose of this study was to understand the experiences, perceptions, and beliefs of perinatal nurses who provided care for women who used marijuana during their pregnancies; to gain a deeper understanding of their beliefs, feelings, and how they perceived use of marijuana during pregnancy; and to understand the educational needs these nurses perceived regarding prenatal marijuana use. Thirteen nurses (N = 13) who practiced in the perinatal field from across the United States agreed to participate in this study and be audio and video recorded. Twelve interviews were conducted via Zoom and one was conducted in person. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and interpreted for their meaning. Six themes were identified and validated with participants through member checking. The following themes that emerged provided a glimpse into the experiences, perspectives, and beliefs of perinatal nurses who cares for women using marijuana during pregnancy: (a) mixed emotions, (b) more and more patients are positive, (c) forming a relationship, (d) effects on the baby, (e) the healthcare team needs to be on the same page, and (f) we need to know more. This study revealed a strong need for more knowledge and education regarding marijuana use during pregnancy and the development of strategies to improve communication skills for nurses who work with this population of women. Further, findings provided a foundation for the development of educational strategies and interventions targeted to enhance knowledge and communication skills for perinatal nurses and nursing students who might work with women who used marijuana during pregnancy.


175 pages

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