Background: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based intervention used to enhance reductions in alcohol and illicit drug use. SBIRT use has resulted in positive health and social outcomes. However, SBIRT implementation remains low. Research on implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as SBIRT, lacks information about challenges and successes related to implementation. The Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) provides a framework that improves the comprehension, clarity, and relevance of strategies available for implementation research. This framework was applied to structure findings from analyses of qualitative interview data gathered from local champions leading SBIRT implementation. The purpose of this study was to understand site coordinators’ (SCs) perceptions of SBIRT implementation and employed strategies. Study aims included (1) describe SCs’ perceptions of barriers, facilitators, and outcomes related to SBIRT implementation, and (2) describe strategies perceived as most effective to implement SBIRT.
Methods: This was a descriptive study conducted with 14 SCs, representing 14 medical surgical units within a large healthcare system. A semi-structured interview guide was developed by the study team to capture barriers, facilitators, and outcomes related to SBIRT implementation. A follow-up survey, based on 14 commonly identified ERIC strategies during SC interviews, was administered to determine the SC’s perceptions of the most helpful (i.e. effective) implementation strategies on a scale of 1 (least helpful) to 5 (most helpful).
Results: All site coordinators participated in the SBIRT implementation interview, and 11 of 14 (79%) responded to the follow-up survey. Within the categories of barriers, facilitators, and outcomes, 25 subthemes emerged. The most highly rated effective ERIC implementation strategies were purposely reexamining the implementation (M=4.38; n=8), providing ongoing consultation (M=4.13; n=8), auditing and providing feedback (M=4.1; n=10), developing education materials (M=4.1; n=10), identifying and preparing champions (M=4; n=7), and tailoring strategies (M=4; n=7).
Conclusion: This study applied a common framework (ERIC) to implementation lessons within a large health system that can be replicated in other implementation studies and quality improvement efforts. Adapting and sustaining change are challenging in healthcare settings. However, understanding and using the most helpful implementations strategies may support healthcare teams to adopt and sustain interventions such as SBIRT.