IRETA’s New Grants Spur SBIRT Advancement

At the end of September, IRETA received notification of a five-year award to serve as a National Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Focus Center, a N-SBIRT ATTC.  The N-SBIRT ATTC builds on IRETA’s decade-long work in this area on a variety of local, regional and national projects.  Below, we review our recently-awarded SBIRT grants (a total of four), which stand as evidence of the undeniable momentum behind this simple, versatile risk reduction and prevention strategy.

IRETA receives N-SBIRT ATTC grant from SAMHSA

We are very pleased to announce that  IRETA has been awarded a five-year national ATTC-SBIRT grant from SAMHSA.

As the new National SBIRT ATTC, IRETA will become a SBIRT National Focus Center. This entails ensuring the coordination of multiple national SBIRT initiatives and producing a SBIRT suite of services to advance the adoption of SBIRT practices within systems.  As in the past, our work will have a strong basis in the latest implementation science using the ATTC Network’s technology transfer model.

IRETA’s partner on the N-SBIRT ATTC is NORC at the University of Chicago, which currently oversees two SBIRT implementation projects, the Hospital Initiative and the BIG Initiative.  The two initiatives illustrate SBIRT’s wide ranging application, from employee assistance programs to hospital settings.

Especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s confirmation of the constitutionality of healthcare reform, SBIRT is a timely public health model for SAMHSA to advance.  It is an evidence-based practice that promotes integration between primary and specialty care and reduces healthcare spending by identifying harmful substance use before it escalates and causes illness or injury.

“Addressing the alcohol and drug treatment needs of people hospitalized for injuries and medical illnesses is reaching the same public health priority as treatment of heart
attacks, asthma, surgical infections and immunizations,” according to Dr. Eric Goplerud, who directs NORC’s Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies department.  Read IRETA’s quick snapshot of a 2009 study on SBIRT

The addiction treatment workforce has a vital role in the SBIRT model.  It can be used to extend services in a variety of settings. An addiction workforce trained to use the SBIRT model will be prepared for jobs in non-traditional settings like primary care centers and hospital emergency departments.  As the National SBIRT ATTC, IRETA will continue working to strengthen the addictions workforce with training and technical assistance, now with a particular focus on SBIRT.

Dr. Holly Hagle, National ATTC-SBIRT Director

N-SBIRT ATTC will address the following goals:

  • Serve as the national SBIRT expert and key resource;
  • Broaden implementation practices for SBIRT by creating an SBIRT suite of services;
  • Develop strategies to expand the workforce(s) that utilize SBIRT and work toward the consistent application of the SBIRT model to ensure fidelity and sustainability.

IRETA has led SBIRT research and training initiatives primarily in the northeast region over the last decade; our scope has now changed to include all of the United States.

“IRETA’s involvement in multiple state and national SBIRT projects since 2003 gives us the experience, knowledge and connections to lead the national ATTC-SBIRT focus area,” IRETA Executive Director Dr. Peter Luongo said.

HRSA grant for “SBIRT Training for Interprofessional Groups of Anesthesia Students”

IRETA also received notification of an award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the InGAS-SBIRT training program. In cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing and School of Dental Medicine, this program provides SBIRT training for Interprofessional Groups of Anesthesia Students (InGAS) (which consists of student registered nurse anesthetists, dental anesthesiologists, and dental students) to improve their readiness to practice as they graduate and enter the workforce.

Project Director Ann Mitchell said that under the grant, IRETA and Pitt will train InGAS practicing in hospitals and community-based settings with underserved populations on addressing the needs of individuals who are using alcohol or other drugs in a risky manner.

It has been documented that 24 to 31 percent of all patients treated–and as many as 50 percent of severely injured trauma patients in emergency departments–test positive for alcohol use. Because InGAS may be called upon to intervene with these patients in both emergency and non-emergency situations, the SBIRT-InGAS project is an enormous opportunity to impact the healthcare of underserved patients.

Furthermore, because substance abuse is one of the most serious occupational safety issue associated with the practice of anesthesiology, the project also has the potential to reduce health risks associated with alcohol and other drug use among practitioners in the field.

HRSA grant for Emergency Department Registered Nurses

In addition to SBIRT-InGAS, IRETA and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing also have EDRN-SBIRT, a HRSA grant to teach emergency department registered nurses SBIRT.  Currently in its second year of funding, this program develops the knowledge and skills of emergency department nurses to improve access to care, increase quality of service, and help patients whose alcohol and other drug use may not warrant specialized professional care.

Training nurses in SBIRT to address substance use in patients is ideal, said EDRN-SBIRT Project Director Dr. Ann Mitchell of the Pitt School of Nursing,  because “generally, nurses spend the most time with patients and are consistently ranked as the most trusted professionals [in healthcare].”

HRSA grant for “Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Targeting Substance Use in Rural Populations” 

Finally, IRETA and the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing and Graduate School of Public Health have received a grant to use SBIRT to target substance use in rural populations. The purpose of this project is to create a team-based Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) intervention that leads to efficient, quality care.

“This is a very innovative project,” said Project Director, Dr. Kathryn Puskar, of the Pitt School of Nursing.  “It’s really focused on using a team to provide care in an efficient, integrated, coordinated manner and move away from healthcare silos.”

The IPCP is composed of three diverse professionals: nurses, public health workers, and behavioral health counselors.  Rural areas were targeted for SBIRT training because they often lack specialists and access to services.  One of the results of the project will be a product: an SBIRT tool that can be used effectively across disciplines.

The ICPC SBIRT grant began in September 2012 and lasts for three years.


Look forward to more information on SBIRT practices, training and implementation in our e-newsletter, our website, and via social media.  For specific inquiries, contact Dr. Holly Hagle, Director of ATTC-SBIRT at holly[at]ireta[dot]org.


  1. […] our organization has become the National Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment ATTC,  I have done my fair share of reading about how SBIRT is being implemented into primary care […]

  2. […] Related Posts: IRETA’s New Grants Spur SBIRT Advancement […]

  3. […] IRETA’s New Grants Spur SBIRT Advancement […]

  4. art berndt · · Reply

    SBIRT is a shadow program that spends millions of taxpayer dollars achieving nothing measurable. Try to locate reliable stats about the effectiveness of this program. Good luck. It is a federally funded jobs program that pretends to do some good in the area of addiction. It does nothing, except interview people and log statistics.

    In a real business, there are measurements that inform management concerning the worth of any program or process. Typically, government programs measure nothing as far as their worth to the “public good”.

    SBIRT is typical of thousands of ineffective government programs. SBIRT permits the government to pretend that it is doing something about addiction so that Congress people can garner votes. Better to do nothing than to spend wads of money pretending. Hospitals and other health care entities love SBIRT handouts, and why not?

  5. I’m grateful that folks still spend the enough time
    to publish purposeful articles.

  6. I signed to your rss; I am looking ahead to read
    much more ideas like this.

  7. […] IRETA, through other funded projects, currently oversees SBIRT projects tailored to various settings, such as nursing schools, federally qualified healthcare centers, and emergency rooms, among others. Read more about our SBIRT projects […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,085 other followers

%d bloggers like this: