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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2016 Mar;62:28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2015.10.006. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

SBIRT-A: Adapting SBIRT to Maximize Developmental Fit for Adolescents in Primary Care.

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Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR, USA.
Center for Alcohol and Addictions Studies at Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA. Electronic address:
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model is widely recommended as part of routine visits in pediatric primary care despite a dearth of evidence on its effectiveness, feasibility, and developmental appropriateness for adolescents in this setting. The purpose of this article is to explicate ways that SBIRT may be tailored to better serve adolescents in primary care under a set of recommended adaptations that we refer to collectively as SBIRT-A or Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for Adolescents. Each component of the SBIRT-A framework incorporates recommendations to optimize developmental fit with adolescents based on extant empirical research, developmental theory, and well-documented barriers to service delivery in primary care. Commonalities across proposed adaptations include reliance upon proactive methods to identify and engage youth; innovation in service delivery aimed at improving the consistency and reach of interventions; and a family-focused approach to engagement, assessment, and intervention. Specific recommendations include taking advantage of every clinical encounter with the family to screen, involving caregivers in assessments and brief interventions, leveraging technology to administer brief interventions and booster sessions, and patient- and family-centered procedures for treatment referral and engagement. The adaptations proposed in this article have the potential to enhance the detection of adolescents with SU problems in primary care, the consistency of intervention provision, and engagement of this typically recalcitrant population into appropriate treatment.


Adolescent; Primary care; SBIRT; Substance use

[Available on 2017-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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