Alcohol SBIRT Implementation in an HMO: Non-Physician Providers vs. Physicians

Investigator: Constance Weisner, DrPH
Sponsor: Kaiser Foundation Research Institute

Location(s): United States


The purpose of this study is to determine whether Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Specialty Chemical Dependency Treatment (as appropriate) by Non-Physicians versus Primary Care Providers (versus control group) is more likely to be implemented and more effective at reducing unsafe drinking.
This health services implementation study is a clustered, randomized trial. We propose to randomize primary care clinics to three arms—a control condition and two alternative modes of delivery of the NIAAA Clinician's Guide to Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in primary care settings. In the Primary Care Physician or "PCP" arm, PCPs will be trained on the SBIRT protocols outlined in the NIAAA Clinicians' Guide and conduct brief intervention and referrals as needed. In the Non-Physician Provider or "NPP" arm, Medical Assistants will be trained to use the NIAAA screener and enter the results in the Electronic Medical Record, and NPPs (e.g., Behavioral Medicine Specialists, Clinical Nurses and Health Educators) will conduct brief intervention and referral activities. The SBIRT content, based on the NIAAA Guide, is the same in both the NPP and PCP arms; we compare delivery by the two types of providers and versus the control condition, in which providers and staff will not receive any training on SBIRT protocols. We examine implementation outcomes: rates of screening, brief intervention, follow-up screening and brief intervention, referral to Chemical Dependency treatment, and alcohol use disorders medication rates. We also include, as secondary analyses, an effectiveness study examining patient outcomes by study arm.