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The remote brief intervention and referral to treatment model: Development, functionality, acceptability, and feasibility
University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications
  • Edwin D. Boudreaux, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Brianna Haskins, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Tina Harralson, Polaris Health Directions Inc.
  • Edward Bernstein, Boston University School of Medicine
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Emergency Medicine
Publication Date
Document Type

BACKGROUND: Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is effective for reducing risky alcohol use across a variety of medical settings. However, most programs have been unsustainable because of cost and time demands. Telehealth may alleviate on-site clinician burden. This exploratory study examines the feasibility of a new Remote Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (R-BIRT) model.

METHODS: Eligible emergency department (ED) patients were enrolled into one of five models. (1) Warm Handoff: clinician-facilitated phone call during ED visit. (2) Patient Direct: patient-initiated call during visit. (3) Electronic Referral: patient contacted by R-BIRT personnel post visit. (4) Patient Choice: choice of models 1-3. (5) Modified Patient Choice: choice of models 1-2, Electronic Referral offered if 1-2 were declined. Once connected, a health coach offered assessment, counseling, and referral to treatment. Follow up assessments were conducted at 1 and 3 months. Primary outcomes measured were acceptance, satisfaction, and completion rates.

RESULTS: Of 125 eligible patients, 50 were enrolled, for an acceptance rate of 40%. Feedback and satisfaction ratings were generally positive. Completion rates were 58% overall, with patients enrolled into a model wherein the consultation occurred during the ED visit, as opposed to after the visit, much more likely to complete a consultation, 90% vs. 10%, chi(2) (4, N=50)=34.8, p < 0.001.

CONCLUSIONS: The R-BIRT offers a feasible alternative to in-person alcohol SBIRT and should be studied further. The public health impact of having accessible, sustainable, evidence-based SBIRT for substance use across a range of medical settings could be considerable.

  • Brief motivational intervention,
  • Referrals,
  • Screening,
  • Substance abuse,
  • Technology,
  • Telehealth
DOI of Published Version
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Oct 1;155:236-42. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.07.014. Epub 2015 Jul 23. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
PubMed ID
Citation Information
Edwin D. Boudreaux, Brianna Haskins, Tina Harralson and Edward Bernstein. "The remote brief intervention and referral to treatment model: Development, functionality, acceptability, and feasibility" Vol. 155 (2015) ISSN: 0376-8716 (Linking)
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