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Preparing Hospitals to Address Substance Use

Group of friends drinking at a party
A national training and technical assistance initiative to support SBIRT implementation in U.S. hospitals
  • Funder
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Dates
    2012 - Present


Hospitals need support in implementing evidence-based screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment to address patient substance misuse.

Hospitals emergency departments, trauma centers, inpatient psychiatric, and other departments are under-utilized settings for identifying and treating patients with unhealthy and risky alcohol and other substance use. Many health professionals working in hospital settings do not have the knowledge and skills to conduct evidence-based approaches such as screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) to address the full continuum of substance use risk. 


National training and technical assistance initiatives can prepare hospitals to routinely screen and intervene for substance misuse.

Hospitals and health professionals need training and technical assistance to effectively implement SBIRT programs, report on Joint Commission SBIRT performance measures, develop billing and reimbursement processes to sustain SBIRT, and make the business and clinical case for hospital administrative and clinical leadership. 


Training materials, tools, and resources are available to support implementation of SBIRT in hospitals.

More than 50 hospitals participated in the Brief Intervention Group (BIG) Hospital SBIRT Initiative Learning Community to share expertise and experiences implementing SBIRT in hospitals.  Over 10,000 practitioners and staff, medical directors, quality improvement professionals, administrators, and researchers received support and training on the FLO implementation model, screening using validated tools, brief intervention using motivational interviewing skills, best practices in referral and linkage to care, adaptation of electronic health record systems to document SBIRT service delivery, and using data to inform quality improvement and report SBIRT performance measures. As a result, hospitals across the U.S. are more prepared to conduct SBIRT with patients using substances in unhealthy, risky,  and harmful ways as well as report on Joint Commission SBIRT performance measures.

NORC partnered with organizations and professional associations to develop and disseminate the Learner’s Guide to SBIRT for Health Professionals, on-demand training, and a website of resources. 

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Principal Research Scientist

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