Background: The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) service for unhealthy alcohol use has been shown to be one of the most cost-effective medical preventive services and has been associated with long-term reductions in alcohol use and health care utilization. Recent studies also indicate that SBIRT reduces illicit drug use. In 2008 and 2009, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration funded 17 grantees to develop and implement medical residency training programs that teach residents how to provide SBIRT services for individuals with alcohol and drug misuse conditions. This paper presents the curricular activities associated with this initiative.
Methods: We used an online survey delivery application (Qualtrics) to e-mail a survey instrument developed by the project directors of 4 SBIRT residency programs to each residency grantee's director. The survey included both quantitative and qualitative data.
Results: All 17 (100%) grantees responded. Respondents encompassed residency programs in emergency medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, surgery, and preventive medicine. Thirteen of 17 (76%) grantee programs used both online and in-person approaches to deliver the curriculum. All 17 grantees incorporated motivational interviewing and validated screening instruments in the curriculum. As of June 2011, 2867 residents had been trained, and project directors reported all residents were incorporating SBIRT into their practices. Consistently mentioned challenges in implementing an SBIRT curriculum included finding time in residents' schedules for the modules and the need for trained faculty to verify resident competence.
Conclusions: The SBIRT initiative has resulted in rapid development of educational programs and a cohort of residents who utilize SBIRT in practice. Skills verification, program dissemination, and sustainability after grant funding ends remain ongoing challenges.