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Validity of the Prenatal Risk Overview for Detecting Drug Use Disorders in Pregnancy


Correspondence to:

Patricia A. Harrison, Director of Research and Program Development, Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, 250 South 4th St., Room 510, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1384. E-mail:



To validate the Prenatal Risk Overview (PRO) drug use questions against a structured diagnostic interview among pregnant women.

Design and Sample

Prenatal care patients were administered the PRO at intake and then asked to consent to a research diagnostic interview. Of 1,367 women asked to participate, 1,274 consented and 745 completed the study.


Three drug use items comprised one of 13 PRO psychosocial risk domains. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) was used as the validation instrument. To assess criterion validity, the Moderate/High and High Risk classifications were cross-tabulated with SCID Drug Use Disorder diagnoses.


In response to the PRO, almost one third of participants (29.4%) reported drug use during the 12 months pre-pregnancy awareness and 11.0% reported use post-pregnancy awareness; 7.0% met SCID diagnostic criteria for Drug Abuse, Drug Dependence, or both, primarily for marijuana use. Drug Use Disorder sensitivity and specificity rates for the PRO Moderate/High Risk classifications were 88.5% and 74.3%, respectively, and for High Risk only, 78.8% and 87.3%.


The PRO yielded substantial self-reporting of drug use before and after pregnancy awareness with high sensitivity and specificity for detecting Drug Use Disorders. PRO results can inform decisions about appropriate clinical responses.