Assessing and improving organizational readiness to implement substance use disorder treatment in primary care: findings from the SUMMIT study

BMC Fam Pract. 2017 Dec 21;18(1):107. doi: 10.1186/s12875-017-0673-6.


Background: Millions of people with substance use disorders (SUDs) need, but do not receive, treatment. Delivering SUD treatment in primary care settings could increase access to treatment because most people visit their primary care doctors at least once a year, but evidence-based SUD treatments are underutilized in primary care settings. We used an organizational readiness intervention comprised of a cluster of implementation strategies to prepare a federally qualified health center to deliver SUD screening and evidence-based treatments (extended-release injectable naltrexone (XR-NTX) for alcohol use disorders, buprenorphine/naloxone (BUP/NX) for opioid use disorders and a brief motivational interviewing/cognitive behavioral -based psychotherapy for both disorders). This article reports the effects of the intervention on key implementation outcomes.

Methods: To assess changes in organizational readiness we conducted pre- and post-intervention surveys with prescribing medical providers, behavioral health providers and general clinic staff (N = 69). We report on changes in implementation outcomes: acceptability, perceptions of appropriateness and feasibility, and intention to adopt the evidence-based treatments. We used Wilcoxon signed rank tests to analyze pre- to post-intervention changes.

Results: After 18 months, prescribing medical providers agreed more that XR-NTX was easier to use for patients with alcohol use disorders than before the intervention, but their opinions about the effectiveness and ease of use of BUP/NX for patients with opioid use disorders did not improve. Prescribing medical providers also felt more strongly after the intervention that XR-NTX for alcohol use disorders was compatible with current practices. Opinions of general clinic staff about the appropriateness of SUD treatment in primary care improved significantly.

Conclusions: Consistent with implementation theory, we found that an organizational readiness implementation intervention enhanced perceptions in some domains of practice acceptability and appropriateness. Further research will assess whether these factors, which focus on individual staff readiness, change over time and ultimately predict adoption of SUD treatments in primary care.

Keywords: Buprenorphine/naloxone; Care coordination; Collaborative care; Evidence-based substance use disorder treatment; Extended-release injectable naltrexone; Implementation intervention; Medication-assisted treatment; Motivational interviewing; Organizational readiness; Primary care; Suboxone®; Vivitrol®.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Financing, Government
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • United States


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone