An evidence based alcohol screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) curriculum for emergency department (ED) providers improves skills and utilization

Edward Bernstein, Judith Bernstein, James Feldman, William Fernandez, Melissa Hagan, Patricia Mitchell, Clara Safi, Robert Woolard, Mike Mello, Janette Baird, Christina Lee, Shahrzad Bazargan-Hejazi, Kerry Broderick, Kathryn A. LaPerrier, Arthur Kellermann, Marlena M. Wald, Robert E. Taylor, Kim Walton, Michelle Grant-Ervin, Denise RollinsonDavid Edwards, Theodore Chan, Dan Davis, Jean Buchanan Marshall, Robert Aseltine, Amy James, Elizabeth Schilling, Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Brigitte M. Baumann, Edwin D. Boudreaux, Ronald F. Maio, Rebecca M. Cunningham, Teresa Murrell, David Doezema, Michael J. Bauer, Deirdre Anglin, Adriana Eliassen, Marcus Martin, Jesse Pines, Leslie Buchanan, James Turner, Gail D'Onofrio, Linda C. Degutis, Patricia Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Objective: Emergency Departments (EDs) offer an opportunity to improve the care of patients with at-risk and dependent drinking by teaching staff to screen, perform brief intervention and refer to treatment (SBIRT). We describe here the implementation at 14 Academic EDs of a structured SBIRT curriculum to determine if this learning experience improves provider beliefs and practices. Methods: ED faculty, residents, nurses, physician extenders, social workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) were surveyed prior to participating in either a two hour interactive workshops with case simulations, or a web-based program ( A pre-post repeated measures design assessed changes in provider beliefs and practices at three and 12 months post-exposure. Results: Among 402 ED providers, 74% reported < 10 hours of prior professional alcohol-related education and 78% had < 2 hours exposure in the previous year. At 3-month follow-up, scores for self-reported confidence in ability, responsibility to intervene, and actual utilization of SBIRT skills all improved significantly over baseline. Gains decreased somewhat at 12 months, but remained above baseline. Length of time in practice was positively associated with SBIRT utilization, controlling for gender, race and type of profession. Persistent barriers included time limitations and lack of referral resources. Conclusions: ED providers respond favorably to SBIRT. Changes in utilization were substantial at three months post-exposure to a standardized curriculum, but less apparent after 12 months. Booster sessions, trained assistants and infrastructure supports may be needed to sustain changes over the longer term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 27 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol education
  • Alcohol screening
  • Brief intervention
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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