Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a public health approach to identifying at-risk substance use behavior in order to deliver early intervention and treatment. A University based SAMHSA-funded project sought to train social work students in evidence-based SBIRT practices in effort to 1) enhance knowledge 2) enhance perceived confidence to implement SBIRT with clients. This project offered the opportunity to evaluate the delivery of the curriculum through an online modality which is critical given the increase in distance educations as a teaching and training modality.
Studentsenrolled in an MSW program (n=26), were recruited to participate from an online class. Using alocally-developed survey assessing knowledge of, and confidence in implementing, evidence-based SBIRT practices with clients, students were assessed at 3 different time points:
Pre-test- Occurring 2 to 4 weeks prior to training
30-day follow-up- Occurring 30 to 60 days following training
12-month follow-up- Occurring 12 to 14 months following graduation.
Confidence to utilize SBIRT with clients was measured using a 7-item assessment whose scale ranged from 1 (no confidence) to 5 (high confidence). Total confidence scores were calculated at all three time points. Comparing total scores using a one-way repeated measures ANOVA revealed significant improvements from pre-test to 30-day and pre-test to 12-month, F(1, 21) = 5.29, p<.01, partial η2 = 0.20. Bonferroni-adjusted pairwise comparisons more specifically revealed significant increases from pre-test (M = 24.636, SD = 6.870) to 30-day follow-up (M = 28.409, SD= 4.847) and from pre-test to 12-month follow-up (M =27.909, SD= 7.590). Observing utilization rates, it was noted that twelve of the twenty-two students were using SBIRT at 12-month follow-up. Ten of these students rated this approach either very effectiveor effective.
Conclusion and Implications:
Comparing data collected from students at pre-test with that collected at 30-day follow-up, as well as 12-month post-graduation follow-up, significant changes in average confidence were observed. The data show a statistically significant increase from both pre-test to 30-day follow-up and pre-test to 12-month follow-up. Further post-graduation SBIRT is being used in practice with perceived effectiveness. Thus, it is concluded that the online SBIRT curricula, which is still in use today, is designed and administered to equip emerging health professionals with the confidence to identify risks for, prevent, and assist in the treatment of substance use disorders. It is also anticipated that the effects of this flexible training will be farther-reaching, with students located around the country and 23% planning to offer services in Spanish.