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BACKGROUND: The incidence of neonatal opiate withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) in the US has grown dramatically over the past two decades. Many rural hospitals not equipped to manage these patients transfer them to hospitals in bigger cities.

METHODS: We created a curriculum, the NOWS-NM Program, a mobile/web-based curriculum training in best practices. To evaluate the curriculum, we conducted pre- and post-surveys of NOWS knowledge, attitudes, and care practices, plus post-curriculum interviews and focus groups.

RESULTS: Fourteen participants completed both pre- and post-curriculum surveys. They indicated an increase in knowledge and care practices. A small number of respondents expressed negative attitudes about parents of infants with NOWS at pre-test, the training curriculum appeared to have no impact on such attitudes at post-test. Sixteen participants participated in focus groups or interviews. Qualitative data reinforced the positive quantitative results and contradicted the negative survey results, respondents reported that the program did reduce stigma and improve provider/staff interactions with patients.

CONCLUSIONS: This curriculum demonstrated positive impacts on NOWS knowledge and care practices. Incorporating focus on core concepts of trauma-informed care and self-regulation in future iterations of the curriculum may strengthen the opportunity to change attitudes and address the needs expressed by participants and improve care of families and babies with NOWS.

SIGNIFICANCE: This project evaluates a novel curriculum covering best practices in care of infants with neonatal opiate withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) and is oriented toward supporting care in rural NM hospitals. We evaluated the curriculum with both quantitative and qualitative methods. Results support the effectiveness of the curriculum to increase competence of rural providers in the care of patients with NOWS. The NOWS-NM Program is a novel and effective mobile training tool, especially for under-resourced, rural hospitals.

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