SBIRT administered by mental health counselors for hospitalized adults with substance misuse or disordered use: Evaluating hospital utilization and costs

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeremy W. Bray, Professor and Department Head (Creator)
Carrie A. Wachter Morris, Associate Professor & School Counseling Coordinator (Creator)
Kelly L. Wester, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Objective: We analyzed the association of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) with hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and related costs, when administered to inpatients with substance misuse or disordered use by professional mental health counselors. Methods: Our study used retrospective program and health records data and a difference-in-differences design with propensity score covariates. The study population consisted of hospital inpatients admitted to integrated care services staffed by physicians, nurses, and mental health counselors. The intervention group consisted of patients selected for intervention based on substance use history and receiving SBIRT (n = 1577). Patients selected for intervention but discharged before SBIRT administration (n = 618) formed the comparison group. The outcome variables were hospitalization and ED visits costs and counts. Costs of hospitalizations and ED visits were combined to allow sufficient data for analysis, with counts treated similarly. Patient-level variables were substance use type and substance use severity. A cluster variable was inpatient clinical service. Zero-censored and two-part logistic and generalized linear models with robust standard errors tested the association of SBIRT interventions with the outcomes. Results: For the full study population of patients using alcohol, illicit drugs, or both, SBIRT administered by mental health counselors was not associated with changes in hospitalizations and ED visits. For patients with alcohol misuse or disordered use, SBIRT by mental health counselors was associated an odds ratio of 0.32 (p < .001) of having subsequent hospitalizations or ED visits. For patients with alcohol use who did return as hospital inpatients or to the ED, SBIRT by counselors was associated with a reduction in costs of $2547 per patient (p < .001) and with an incidence rate ratio of 0.57 for counts (p = .003). Conclusion: Our results suggest that professional mental health counselors on inpatient integrated care teams may provide SBIRT effectively for patients with misuse and disordered use of alcohol, reducing the likelihood of future healthcare utilization and costs.

Additional Information

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 132, 108510.
Language: English
Date: 2022
SBIRT, substance use, counselor, behavioral health, integrated care, health services research

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