Evaluating training of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for substance use: Reliability of the MD3 SBIRT Coding Scale

Psychol Addict Behav. 2015 Mar;29(1):218-24. doi: 10.1037/adb0000022. Epub 2014 Nov 17.


Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) has become an empirically supported and widely implemented approach in primary and specialty care for addressing substance misuse. Accordingly, training of providers in SBIRT has increased exponentially in recent years. However, the quality and fidelity of training programs and subsequent interventions are largely unknown because of the lack of SBIRT-specific evaluation tools. The purpose of this study was to create a coding scale to assess quality and fidelity of SBIRT interactions addressing alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medication misuse. The scale was developed to evaluate performance in an SBIRT residency training program. Scale development was based on training protocol and competencies with consultation from Motivational Interviewing coding experts. Trained medical residents practiced SBIRT with standardized patients during 10- to 15-min videotaped interactions. This study included 25 tapes from the Family Medicine program coded by 3 unique coder pairs with varying levels of coding experience. Interrater reliability was assessed for overall scale components and individual items via intraclass correlation coefficients. Coder pair-specific reliability was also assessed. Interrater reliability was excellent overall for the scale components (>.85) and nearly all items. Reliability was higher for more experienced coders, though still adequate for the trained coder pair. Descriptive data demonstrated a broad range of adherence and skills. Subscale correlations supported concurrent and discriminant validity. Data provide evidence that the MD3 SBIRT Coding Scale is a psychometrically reliable coding system for evaluating SBIRT interactions and can be used to evaluate implementation skills for fidelity, training, assessment, and research. Recommendations for refinement and further testing of the measure are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Coding*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Motivational Interviewing / methods
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Patient Simulation
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / education*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Videotape Recording