Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), an evidence-based validated system for providing early detection and brief treatment of substance use disorders, has been widely used in the training of medical residents across specialties at a number of sites. This paper investigates the effectiveness of SBIRT training during short-term follow-up at Albany Medical Center, one of the initial SAMHSA grantees.
Training outcomes were measured by training satisfaction following opportunities to apply SBIRT skills in clinical work, the rate at which these techniques were applied in clinical work, and the degree to which residents felt the SBIRT training provided skills that were applicable to their practice. We examined differences in learning experience by post-graduate year and by program, and conducted a qualitative analysis in a convergent parallel mixed methods design to elucidate barriers encountered by residents upon using SBIRT techniques in clinical practice.
Residents remained highly satisfied with the training at four-month follow-up, with 80.1% reporting that they had used SBIRT skills in their clinical work. Use of SBIRT techniques was high at 6-month follow-up as well, with 85.9% of residents reporting that they regularly screened their patients for substance use, 74.4% reporting that they had applied brief intervention techniques, and 78.2% indicating that SBIRT training had made them overall more effective in helping patients with substance use issues. Differences in application rates and satisfaction were found by specialty. Qualitative analyses indicated that residents encountered patient readiness and specific contextual factors, such as time constraints, externally imposed values, and clinical norms, as barriers to implementation.
Despite encountering obstacles such as time constraints and patient readiness, residents utilized many of the skills they had learned during SBIRT training in clinical practice and reported finding these skills useful in their management of patients with substance use issues.