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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background 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. This pilot study adds to the literature by examining the impact of an SBIRT interprofessional education approach for behavioral health graduate students and medical residents as planned by faculty from multiple professions at a state university. It measured changes in attitudes, abilities, skills, and knowledge in these interprofessionally trained students. Methods 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 (Note 1) measured self-perceived attitudes, abilities, and skills along with objectively measured knowledge. Analysis examined pre-to post-training changes in scores. Results 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 students 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 student groups. Conclusions 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, improving their personal experience and professional competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Counseling education
  • Curriculum
  • Interprofessional education
  • Medical education
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Nursing education
  • Social work education
  • Substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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