An Interprofessional Education Pilot Program on Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Improves Student Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes

Constance van Eeghen, Juvena Hitt, John G. King, Jane E. Atieno Okech, Barbara Rouleau, Kelly Melekis, Rodger Kessler, Richard Pinckney



Recent efforts to prepare healthcare professionals to care for patients/clients with substance use problems have incorporated SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) into graduate education programs. No research has examined the benefits and methods of an SBIRT interprofessional education approach for behavioral health graduate students and medical residents. This pilot study examined the implementation of an interprofessional curriculum on SBIRT to improve attitudes, abilities, skills, and knowledge of learners planned by faculty from multiple professions at a state university.


Faculty in Counseling, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Nursing and Social Work departments collaborated to develop an interprofessional curriculum delivered through a small-group and active learning approach.  Seventy-one residents and graduate students participated.  Pre- and post-training surveys measured self-perceived attitudes, abilities, and skills along with objectively measured knowledge.  Analysis examined pre- to post-training changes in scores.


Pre-training surveys yielded an 89% response rate; post-training, 85%. Self-perceived attitudes did not change significantly, except a 20% increase in how rewarded learners felt while working with patients/clients with alcohol/drug use disorders (P < .01). Compared to baseline, there was a statistically significant increase in all items of self-perceived ability (P<.01) and all items of self-perceived communication skills (P<=.04). Knowledge mean scores also increased significantly (P < .001) across both primary care and behavioral health learner groups.


Interprofessional training in SBIRT produced improvements in ability, skills, knowledge, and some attitudes. Such programs may inform providers who care for patients/clients with substance use problems, thus improving their competence and personal experience.

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International Journal of Higher Education
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