Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) in a Polish emergency department: three-month outcomes of a randomized, controlled clinical trial

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009 Nov;70(6):982-90. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2009.70.982.


Objective: A randomized, controlled trial of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for drinking and related problems among at-risk and dependent drinkers was conducted in an emergency department (ED) in Sosnowiec, Poland, among patients ages 18 years and older.

Method: Data were collected over a 23-week period, from 4:00 PM to midnight, and resulted in 446 patients being recruited into the study (90% of those who screened positive) and randomized to three conditions following a two-stage process: screened only (n = 147), assessed (n = 152), and received intervention (n = 147). Patients in the assessment (85%) and intervention (83%) conditions were blindly reassessed at 3 months via a telephone interview.

Results: At 3-month follow-up, both groups showed significant decreases in the proportion who were positive for at-risk drinking, the primary outcome variable. Both groups also showed significant decreases in drinking days per week, drinks per drinking day, maximum drinks per occasion, and negative consequences of drinking. Using analysis of covariance to control for baseline measures and demographic characteristics, no difference in outcome measures was found between intervention and assessment conditions. Subgroup analysis found some significant interactions between intervention and secondary outcomes.

Conclusions: Although the main findings were similar to those from other brief-intervention studies in Western cultures, findings here also suggest that intervention may have differential benefits for specific subgroups of patients in the ED, an area of research that may warrant additional study of brief intervention in the ED setting.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Poland
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Referral and Consultation