Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment: implications of SAMHSA's SBIRT initiative for substance abuse policy and practice

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeremy W. Bray, Professor and Department Head (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Aims: This paper describes the major findings and public health implications of a cross-site evaluation of a national Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) demonstration program funded by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Methods: Eleven multi-site programs in two cohorts of SAMHSA grant recipients were each funded for 5 years to promote the adoption and sustained implementation of SBIRT. The SBIRT cross-site evaluation used a multi-method evaluation design to provide comprehensive information on the processes, outcomes and costs of SBIRT as implemented in a variety of medical and community settings. Findings: SBIRT programs in the two evaluated SAMHSA cohorts screened more than 1 million patients/clients. SBIRT implementation was facilitated by committed leadership and the use of substance use specialists, rather than medical generalists, to deliver services. Although the quasi-experimental nature of the outcome evaluation does not permit causal inferences, pre–post differences were clinically meaningful and statistically significant for almost every measure of substance use. Greater intervention intensity was associated with larger decreases in substance use. Both brief intervention and brief treatment were associated with positive outcomes, but brief intervention was more cost-effective for most substances. Sixty-nine (67%) of the original performance sites adapted and redesigned SBIRT service delivery after initial grant funding ended. Four factors influenced SBIRT sustainability: presence of program champions, availability of funding, systemic change and effective management of SBIRT provider challenges. Conclusions: The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) demonstration program was adapted successfully to the needs of early identification efforts for hazardous use of alcohol and illicit drugs. SBIRT is an innovative way to integrate the management of substance use disorders into primary care and general medicine. Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment implementation was associated with improvements in treatment system equity, efficiency and economy.

Additional Information

Addiction, 112: 110– 117. doi: 10.1111/add.13675
Language: English
Date: 2017
alcohol, brief intervention, drugs, referral, SBIRT, screening, substance abuse, tobacco

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