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Am J Public Health. 2015 Jan;105(1):205-211.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for Older Adults With Substance Misuse.

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At the time of the study, Lawrence Schonfeld, Deborah K. Hedgecock, and Amber M. Gum were with the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa. Robert W. Hazlett, Darran M. Duchene, and L. Vance Burns were with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Tallahassee.



We compared substance use and SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) services received for older adults screened by the Florida BRITE (BRief Intervention and Treatment of Elders) Project, across 4 categories of service providers.


Staff from 29 agencies screened for substance use risk in 75 sites across 18 Florida counties. Clients at no or low risk received feedback about screening; moderate risk led to brief intervention, moderate or high risk led to brief treatment, and highest severity led to referral to treatment. Six-month follow-ups were conducted with a random sample of clients.


Over 5 years (September 15, 2006-September 14, 2011), 85‚ÄČ001 client screenings were recorded. Of these, 8165 clients were at moderate or high risk. Most received brief intervention for alcohol or medication misuse. Differences were observed across 4 categories of agencies. Health educators screening solely within medical sites recorded fewer positive screens than those from mental health, substance abuse, or aging services that screened in a variety of community-based and health care sites. Six-month follow-ups revealed a significant decrease in substance use.


The Florida BRITE Project demonstrated that SBIRT can be extended to nonmedical services that serve older adults.

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