The BIG Hospital SBIRT Initiative

A Learning Collaborative to Expand SBIRT into Hospitals and Other Medical Settings




Project Description

Risky, hazardous, and harmful drinking are associated with physical and emotional health problems, alcohol-related traffic crashes, alcohol-impaired driving, accidents, and alcohol-involved violence. The CDC estimates the financial burden of substance abuse to the U.S. economy at over $223 billion annually (2011). Most at-risk drinkers are employed full or part-time and almost three quarters of the costs of heavy drinking are due to lost productivity. Other cost drivers include those associated with injury, disease, law enforcement, and criminal justice. 

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) uses a brief, valid, scientific, screening (five minutes or less) to identify whether drinking places a patient at risk for negative consequences. Depending on the results from the screening questions, the practitioner may provide health education, simple advice, motivational counseling, help with an action plan or a referral for treatment. Although SBI is not a treatment for alcohol dependence, it can help patients with serious alcohol problems to follow through on treatment referrals. SBI is especially well-suited for patients and family members who drink at unhealthy or hazardous levels. 

The Hospital SBIRT Initiative

The Hospital SBIRT Initiative is a multi-year campaign that aims to prepare the nation’s hospitals to screen, prevent and treat the unhealthy alcohol, drug and tobacco use of patients that complicate treatment and increase risk of subsequent disease and disability. 

A broad range of medical practitioners and hospital staff, quality improvement staff, researchers, and professional association representatives (among others) work together on four committees and in their organizations to build awareness and support for the integration of screening and brief intervention in a broad range of hospital medical departments.  Drs. Eric Goplerud and Tracy McPherson facilitate the Hospital SBIRT Initiative. There are no costs to join or participate.  

The Hospital SBIRT Initiative was formed in August 2011 at a Kick-off Meeting that was sponsored by SAMHSA.   In 2012, we became part of the National SBIRT-ATTC, a SAMHSA-funded center that provides information on the latest research-based best practices related to SBIRT and coordinates national efforts to advance SBIRT.  As the National SBIRT-ATTC, we partner with the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA) to offer an SBIRT Suite of Services for an interdisciplinary audience. 

Follow our progress.

Get Involved!

The SBIRT Hospital Initiative campaign works with all interested stakeholders in the hospital SBI supply chain.

The goal is to obtain “buy-in” from all stakeholders and to link them into a learning collaborative of:

  • hospital administrators
  • physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff
  • residency program directors
  • quality improvement managers
  • SBIRT grantees
  • SBI researchers and experts 
  • professional medical association representatives 

If hospitals hear from every stakeholder that SBI tools, resources, and technical assistance are readily available, then we can start to change practice and move hospitals toward adoption of the Joint Commission SBI measures.

If every medical professional organization’s continuing education websites offer consistent training materials on SBI, then the clear message will be heard.

Through this learning collaborative we can provide you with SBI materials and training resources, technical assistance, and opportunities to link and share with your colleagues across the field.

Join us! 

Please click here to be added to our Master Contacts List or to join a Committee.