Examining the sustainability potential of a multisite pilot to integrate alcohol screening and brief intervention within three primary care systems

Transl Behav Med. 2018 Sep 8;8(5):776-784. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibx020.


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that clinicians adopt universal alcohol screening and brief intervention as a routine preventive service for adults, and efforts are underway to support its widespread dissemination. The likelihood that healthcare systems will sustain this change, once implemented, is under-reported in the literature. This article identifies factors that were important to postimplementation sustainability of an evidence-based practice change to address alcohol misuse that was piloted within three diverse primary care organizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded three academic teams to pilot and evaluate implementation of alcohol screening and brief intervention within multiclinic healthcare systems in their respective regions. Following the completion of the pilots, teams used the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool to retrospectively describe and compare differences across eight sustainability domains, identify strengths and potential threats to sustainability, and make recommendations for improvement. Health systems varied across all domains, with greatest differences noted for Program Evaluation, Strategic Planning, and Funding Stability. Lack of funding to sustain practice change, or data monitoring to promote fit and fidelity, was an indication of diminished Organizational Capacity in systems that discontinued the service after the pilot. Early assessment of sustainability factors may identify potential threats that could be addressed prior to, or during implementation to enhance Organizational Capacity. Although this study provides a retrospective assessment conducted by external academic teams, it identifies factors that may be relevant for translating evidence-based behavioral interventions in a way that assures that they are sustained within healthcare systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic / methods*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic / standards
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / standards
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / standards