A Tailored Curriculum of Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for Nurses in Inpatient Settings

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Abstract

A package of clinical strategies known as alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is increasingly recommended for reducing unhealthy alcohol use, the spectrum of alcohol consumption from at-risk drinking (defined as consumption above recommended guidelines) to alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The United States’ Joint Commission issued new SBIRT-related hospital accreditation measures for alcohol. Ongoing initiatives aim to promote, support, and sustain SBIRT implementation in hospital settings. In hospital settings, nurse-delivered SBIRT may be a particularly viable and efficient model for SBIRT implementation. However, like physicians, most nurses have not been trained in how to perform SBIRT, and few authors have described alcohol-related curricula specifically for nurses. In addition, historical differences in nurse and physician professional scopes of practice, role perceptions, and patterns of care delivery suggest the need for effective SBIRT initial and continuing education and training that are tailored to the nursing profession and inpatient environments. In this article, we provide an in-depth description of the registered nurse SBIRT curriculum and describe its development and contents as well as various nurse- and setting-specific adaptations. In addition, we describe how we engaged nursing stakeholders in the development and implementation of the curriculum and discuss potential implications for future SBIRT training and delivery by nurses. SBIRT continuing education and training for nurses represents one of the first steps in expanded SBIRT implementation. Comprehensive workforce and organizational development of inpatient and nurse-delivered SBIRT may provide the means to address the entire spectrum of unhealthy alcohol use across healthcare settings.

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