Maternal opioid treatment: Human experimental research (mother)-approach, issues and lessons learned

Hendrée E. Jones, Gabriele Fischer, Sarah H. Heil, Karol Kaltenbach, Peter R. Martin, Mara G. Coyle, Peter Selby, Susan M. Stine, Kevin E. O'Grady, Amelia M. Arria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) project, an eight-site randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, flexible-dosing, parallel-group clinical trial is described. This study is the most current-and single most comprehensive-research effort to investigate the safety and efficacy of maternal and prenatal exposure to methadone and buprenorphine. Methods: The MOTHER study design is outlined, and its basic features are presented. Conclusions: At least seven important lessons have been learned from the MOTHER study: (i) an interdisciplinary focus improves the design and methods of a randomized clinical trial; (ii) multiple sites in a clinical trial present continuing challenges to the investigative team due to variations in recruitment, patient populations and hospital practices that, in turn, differentially impact recruitment rates, treatment compliance and attrition; (iii) study design and protocols must be flexible in order to meet the unforeseen demands of both research and clinical management; (iv) staff turnover needs to be addressed with a proactive focus on both hiring and training; (v) the implementation of a protocol for the treatment of a particular disorder may identify important ancillary clinical issues worthy of investigation; (vi) timely tracking of data in a multi-site trial is both demanding and unforgiving; and (vii) complex multi-site trials pose unanticipated challenges that complicate the choice of statistical methods, thereby placing added demands on investigators to effectively communicate their results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Opioid dependence
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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