Enhancing adolescent SBIRT with a peer-delivered intervention: An implementation study

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Aug:103:14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.05.009. Epub 2019 May 14.


Purpose: Innovations in adolescent prevention and early intervention strategies are needed to curb early substance use and bring public health models to scale, such as Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Young adults in recovery may have an important role to play in delivering these innovations. However, clinics, schools, and community programs may face barriers when implementing new prevention and early intervention approaches in their settings. The purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility, barriers, and facilitators of Project Amp, an innovative, four-session prevention and early intervention model to enhance SBIRT for adolescents.

Methods: Three school-based programs and three health clinics were selected to implement SBIRT for adolescents and refer eligible adolescents (13-17 years old, moderate risk for substance use disorder) to the study intervention. Between three and six mentors (young adults, 18-28 years old, with lived experience of substance use recovery, also known as peers), were recruited at each site and trained in core skills to deliver the intervention. Study staff communicated with each setting throughout implementation and collected quantitative and qualitative data regarding facilitators and barriers to success. The qualitative data were analyzed to identify key strategies for success when implementing Project Amp.

Results: Across the six sites, 71 practitioners including physicians, nurses, social workers, and counselors, completed training in SBIRT and 30 mentors were hired and trained for the study. Twenty completed sessions with adolescent participants. A total of 1192 adolescents were screened using the CRAFFT. Of those screened, 139 (12%) were eligible, 51 eligible youth (37%) enrolled in the study, and 28 enrolled youth (55%) completed the intervention. Five of the six sites were successfully able to integrate the SBIRT-based Project Amp model into their workflow. Facilitators and barriers for implementation were identified related to three critical factors: recruitment, readiness, and sustainability.

Conclusions: The Project Amp intervention can be conducted successfully in school and healthcare settings in conjunction with SBIRT, adding capacity to expand access to screening and early intervention in a developmentally appropriate way. However, the study yielded insights into adaptations for future implementation, such as a more streamlined model and centralized staff roles such as integrated roles for young peer mentors.

Keywords: Adolescent; Mentoring; Recovery; Substance-related disorders; Young adult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Community Health Services
  • Early Medical Intervention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Peer Group*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Risk
  • School Health Services
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Young Adult