Screening Tools


SBIRT: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. The SBIRT model was incited by an Institute of Medicine recommendation that called for community-based screening for health risk behaviors, including substance use.


Screening — a healthcare professional assesses a patient for risky substance use behaviors using standardized screening tools. Screening can occur in any healthcare setting

Brief Intervention — a healthcare professional engages a patient showing risky substance use behaviors in a short conversation, providing feedback and advice

Referral to Treatment — a healthcare professional provides a referral to brief therapy or additional treatment to patients who screen in need of additional services

In order to propagate SBIRT use, CIHS compiled an array of information and tools to guide implementation of SBIRT in any community health setting. The resources are designed to help answer the most common questions related to SBIRT, such as:

What is SBIRT?

What does an SBIRT program look like?

How is SBIRT paid for?

What other resources are available?


Substance (Other Than Tobacco) Abuse Structured Assessment and Brief Intervention (SBIRT) Services, Fact Sheet, created by CMS, provides education on substance abuse structured assessment and brief intervention (SBIRT). It includes an early intervention approach that targets individuals with nondependent substance use to provide effective strategies for intervention prior to the need for more extensive or specialized treatment.

Why SBIRT? is a primer developed by the Colorado SBIRT initiative to acquaint readers with SBIRT.

Foundations of SBIRT is a 1.5-hour course developed by the Pacific Southwest ATTC that helps familiarize health professionals with the SBIRT process.

The BIG (Brief Intervention Group) Initiative SBIRT Education is a national organization of individuals and organizations founded by Drs. Eric Goplerud and Tracy McPherson that promotes routine screening for hazardous alcohol use and brief solution-focused counseling in the workplace. Access a comprehensive training on SBIRT or view the webinar series on SBIRT implementation in various settings and populations.

The Substance Use in Adults and Adolescents: Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) free online SBIRT course through Medscape addresses the basic principles of SBIRT as well as coding and reimbursement for the implementation of SBIRT in practice.
** A free membership to Medscape is required to view the training.


The SBIRT App, developed at Baylor College of Medicine to support the use of SBIRT by physicians, other health workers, and mental health professionals is free to download. The app provides evidence-based questions to screen for alcohol, drugs and tobacco use. If warranted, a screening tool is provided to further evaluate the specific substance use. The app also provides steps to complete a brief intervention and/or referral to treatment for the patient based on motivational interviewing.

The Annals of Internal Medicine journal article Screening and Behavioral Counseling Interventions in Primary Care to Reduce Alcohol Misuse: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement  provides a good overview of ways to improve long-term health outcomes, the harms of screening and behavioral health counseling interventions, and influences from the health care system that promote or detract the effectiveness of screening and counseling interventions for alcohol misuse.

Care for hospitalized patients with unhealthy alcohol use: A Narrative Review
The review summarizes the major issues involved in caring for patients with unhealthy alcohol use in the general hospital setting, including prevalence, detection, assessment of severity, reduction in drinking with brief intervention, common acute management scenarios for heavy drinkers, and discharge planning.

TAP 33: Systems-Level Implementation of SBIRT
This SAMHSA Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) is a compilation of research and experience from over a decade of federally-funded work on SBIRT. It includes specific implementation models, details about reimbursement and sustainability and case studies from across the nation.

SBIRT in a Radically and Rapidly Changing Environment is a powerpoint that highlights SBIRT in the context of healthcare reform. The webinar which was conducted by the Altarum Institute for SAMHSA can be found below.

The  Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) created an guide: SBIRT: A Resource Toolkit for Behavioral Health Providers to Begin the Conversation with Federally-Qualified Healthcare Centers. This resource provides behavioral health providers with information to engage their local FQHC and community health centers in conversations around implementing SBIRT.

Frequently Asked Questions by Healthcare Providers
 developed by the Colorado Clinical Guidelines Collaborative provides answers to questions commonly asked by providers when beginning to implement SBIRT.

Since 2003, SAMHSA has funded 17 Medical Residency Cooperative Agreements, 15 State Cooperative Agreements, and 12 Targeted Capacity Expansion Campus Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) Grants. Learn more about SAMHSA’s SBIRT grantees.

A presentation for HRSA grantees discusses SBIRT implementation in Ryan White settings.

NIAAA’s Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide focuses on implementing alcohol screening and intervention in any healthcare setting.

A SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP), TIP 24: A Guide to SA Services for Primary Care Clinicians provides guidelines to primary care clinicians for caring for patients with alcohol and drug abuse problems. TIP 24 discusses screening, assessment, brief intervention, medication-assisted treatment, and legal issues of patient confidentiality.

The American Public Health Association manual, Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: A guide for public health practitioners, provides public health professionals such as health educators and community health workers with the information, skills, and tools needed to conduct screening and brief intervention to help at-risk drinkers limit or stop drinking.

SAMHSA’s TIP 42: Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disordersprovides substance abuse providers with updated information on co-occurring substance use and mental disorders and advances in treatment for these individuals. TIP 42 discusses terminology, assessment, and treatment strategies and models.

The “Screening and Behavioral Counseling Interventions in Primary Care to Reduce Alcohol Misuse” booklet announces that effective with dates of service on and after October 14, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will cover annual alcohol screening, and for those that screen positive, up to 4, brief, face-to-face behavioral counseling interventions annually for Medicare beneficiaries, including pregnant women.


Reducing Patient At Risk Drinking developed by the Emergency Nurses Association guides nurses and other healthcare professionals through implementation of SBIRT in emergency room settings.

The Institute for Research and Education in the Addictions developed SBIRT Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment , which provides an array of useful information for emergency departments.


Screening and Brief Interventions (SBI) for Unhealthy Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Implementation Guide The CDC’s Screening and Brief Interventions for Unhealthy Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Implementation Guide for Trauma Centers helps Level I and II trauma centers plan and implement the American College of Surgeon’s Committee on Trauma’s alcohol-screening and brief intervention requirements.


Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) introduces a simple, quick, empirically derived tool for identifying youth at risk for alcohol-related problems. If your organization manages the health and well-being of children and adolescents ages 9–18 years, this Guide is for you. It has been produced in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, clinical researchers, and health practitioners.

Screening and Brief Intervention Tool Kit for College and University Campusesis a toolkit from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to assist college and universities implement screening and brief intervention programs.


Implementing Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in Clinical Settings
April 25, 2011


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Behavioral Healthcare Navigation by Whatcom Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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