Abstract: Outcomes of an SBIRT Training for on-Campus, Off-Campus, and Online MSW Students (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

217P Outcomes of an SBIRT Training for on-Campus, Off-Campus, and Online MSW Students

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth Wacker, MA, Research Associate, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Shauna Rienks, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Deborah Chassler, MSW, Senior Academic Researcher, Boston University
Stephen Brady, PhD, Assistant Dean & Director, Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine Program, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University, Boston, MA
Mena Dasilva-Clark, MSW, MPH, PhD, Assistant Dean for Off-Campus & Online Programs, Boston University
Sae-Mi Jeon, MA, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University
Lena Lundgren, PhD, Professor and Executive Director, Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Background and Purpose:

Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach for the prevention and early detection of alcohol and drug misuse. Screening for substance misuse is typically thought of as the responsibility of primary care providers, but providers are less likely to screen patients who are older, male, racial/ethnic minorities, and/or insured. Although social workers are in an ideal position to decrease these disparities by delivering SBIRT, few MSW students receive SBIRT training. To increase the number of trained students, a large, northeastern university provided a four-hour, online SBIRT training to students in 1) a traditional, on-campus MSW program, 2) a non-traditional, off-campus MSW program intended for working students, and 3) an online MSW program. This paper presents preliminary results from the evaluation of this training, including students’ attitudes and self-reported use of SBIRT before and after training and change over time in outcomes across subgroups of students.


Pre-post surveys included scales pertaining to students’ sense of responsibility and confidence in using SBIRT and the frequency with which they use SBIRT (seven items per scale; Cronbach’s alphas ranging from .84 to .90). Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine change in outcomes over time and between MSW program types. A total of 184 students completed pre and post surveys; most were female (91%) and white (86%). On-campus MSW students were younger, on average, than students from the online and off-campus programs. Most online program and off-campus program students (85% and 98%, respectively) completed the SBIRT training through a required course, while many on-campus program students (64%) completed the training voluntarily (not-for-credit).


At baseline, students across the three groups reported similar views regarding their responsibility as social workers to use SBIRT. However, off-campus students reported statistically significantly greater initial confidence and use of SBIRT than did on-campus students. Across programs, there were statistically significant pre-post increases in confidence, F (1, 174) = 137.63, p < .001, pη2 = .44, sense of responsibility, F (1, 171) = 26.69, p < .001, pη2 = .13; and use of SBIRT, F (1, 171) = 11.33, p = .001, pη2 = .06. Regarding confidence, there was a statistically significant time x group interaction, F (2, 174) = 4.67, p = .01, pη 2 = .05, indicating that on-campus students’ confidence increased at a greater rate than did the other groups — allowing them to “catch up” with their peers. 

Conclusions and Implications:

Students made large gains in their confidence related to using SBIRT after training, with more modest increases in their sense of responsibility and use of SBIRT. Findings suggest that SBIRT training is beneficial to students across MSW program modalities and through a course or not-for-credit training. Furthermore, SBIRT training appears to be particularly successful in helping on-campus students – who are younger and may have limited experience in the field – feel comfortable with SBIRT. Given the relatively small increase in SBIRT use, future study is needed to examine the facilitators and barriers of integrating SBIRT into practice.