Alcohol and drug screening and brief intervention behaviors among advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) students in clinical settings

Katherine Covington, J. Aaron Johnson, Dena Henry, Sharon Chalmers, Freida Payne, Linda Tuck, J. Paul Seale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Previous research on training health professionals to identify and address unhealthy alcohol and drug use in patients through screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) has found that training increases knowledge about substance use and increases students’ confidence in addressing substance use in patients. To date, however, there is little information on how health professional students integrate SBIRT into individual practice. Within a U.S. SBIRT training consortium, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) students were required to practice SBIRT in clinical settings and complete assessment logs for each patient screened. Logs documented results from single item alcohol & drug screening questions; AUDIT or DAST responses; brief intervention (BI)/referral to treatment (RT) steps completed and patients’ responses. 113 APRN students completed logs on 538 patients (mean age 44; SD 15.0; 53.5% female). Positive single question alcohol screens were more frequent than positive single question drug screens (55.3% vs. 25.5%). More than one third (36%) of the logs included high-risk AUDIT/DAST scores. The most utilized BI components were discussions regarding consequences of use (76%) and safe levels of use (70%), while the most utilized RT steps included referral to a mutual help group (15%) or a specialty treatment program (8%). Positive screening rates found by APRN students were higher than reported rates in most clinical settings. The logs also demonstrated that APRN students employed many of the SBIRT skills they were taught while also helping identify underutilized SBIRT steps, which may be addressed specifically in future SBIRT trainings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-129
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Nursing Research
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Alcohol screening
  • Brief intervention
  • Primary care screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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