Objective: To measure racial inequities in drug testing among pregnant people during the first prenatal visit based on their drug use disclosure pattern.
Methods: We used data from a cohort study of patient-clinician communication patterns regarding substance use in first prenatal visits from February 2011 to August 2014. We assessed racial differences (Black-White) in the receipt of urine toxicology testing, stratifying on patients’ drug use disclosure to the clinician.
Results: Among 341 study participants (205 Black [60.1%] and 136 White [39.9%] participants), 70 participants (33 Black [47.1%] and 37 White [52.9%] participants) disclosed drug use, and 271 participants (172 Black [63.5%] and 99 White [36.5%] participants) did not disclose drug use during their first obstetric visit. Of 70 participants who disclosed drug use, 50 (28 Black [56.0%] and 22 White [44.0%] White) had urine drug testing conducted. Black pregnant patients who disclosed drug use were more likely to be tested for drugs than their White counterparts in the adjusted regression analysis (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 8.9, 95% CI 1.3-58.6). Among the 271 participants who did not disclose drug use, 38 (18 Black [47.4%] and 20 White [52.6%] participants) had urine drug testing conducted. For those who did not disclose drug use, the adjusted model showed no statistically significant differences in urine drug testing by patients’ race (aOR 0.7, 95% CI 0.3-1.6).
Conclusion: When pregnant people disclosed drug use, clinicians were more likely to order urine drug testing for Black pregnant people compared with their White counterparts, suggesting clinician racial bias. Current practice patterns and protocols such as urine drug testing in pregnancy care deserve review to identify and mitigate areas of potential clinician discrimination.