Translating SBIRT to public school settings: an initial test of feasibility

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2014 Jan;46(1):15-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


Public schools are not traditional locations where screening, brief motivational counseling intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) are provided. This translational research study aimed to test the feasibility of conducting SBIRT in two urban New York schools and to examine its economic sustainability. In Spring 2012, 248 students were screened during non-academic classes: 42% of them (n=105) reported substance use (versus 28% reported in school-wide, paper anonymous survey). All but one of the positively screened students voluntarily accepted one or more brief intervention sessions and two students were referred to treatment. This school-based SBIRT model did not interfere with academic activities, was feasible to implement, and was attractive to students, teachers and administration. The data offer clear indication that further effectiveness testing is warranted and potentially valuable, however the sustainability of this model was not supported due to our lack of obtaining insurance information, authorization and reimbursement.

Keywords: Adolescents; Brief intervention; Computerized; Internet; School-based clinic; Schools; Screening; Tailoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Counseling / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Motivation
  • New York City
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • Schools
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • Urban Population