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Table 3 Characteristics of brief interventions (BIs) and control groups

From: Effectiveness of brief interventions as part of the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model for reducing the nonmedical use of psychoactive substances: a systematic review

Author and year Target substance Intervention Individual delivering BI (training provided) Intervention content Treatment approach Measure of intervention fidelity Control group
BI versus No BI
Baer et al. 2007 [33] Alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs MI session (in-person, average 17 min) Master’s level clinician or project director (all trained in MI techniques). The interventions included feedback on behavior and consequences, self-efficacy for change, and advice (with permission). Youth provided feedback on the menu of options for discussion, and counselors addressed up to 6 topics in total across sessions. Visuals were also used to demonstrate risk relationships and normative comparisons. Authors cite Miller et al. [49] regarding MI and the substance use check-up model. Regular review of session audio tapes by supervisor. Extent of adherence NR. no BI
Showers and laundry facilities, meals, prayer, open social time, and brief counseling and case management if the youth desired ita.
2nd MI session (in-person, average 32 min.)
3rd MI session (in-person, average 32 min.)
4th MI session (in-person, average 32 min.)
All four sessions scheduled within 4 weeks from first session.
Humeniuk et al. 2008 [35] Cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants, or opioids depending on ASSIST score and concern of participant ASSIST-linked BI (in-person, 5 to 15 min.) and written information Healthcare clinic staff (US, Australia, India); Clinicians and Researchers (Brazil); training was provided to all those conducting interventions. Intervention session incorporated MI techniques and was adapted culturally within each country. The session included feedback on behavior and consequences and advice and used the ASSIST Feedback Report Card during the discussion. Participants left session with a copy of the Report Card, specific drug information booklets, and a take-home guide (Self-help Strategies for Cutting Down or Stopping Substance Use) BI designed to move participants through Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change provided by [50]. Interventions incorporates FRAMES [7] elements as well as MI techniques [51]. Checklist of intervention details was used to maintain consistency across sites. Extent of adherence NR. no BI + Delayed intervention
Could contact the clinical interviewer if concerns regarding the study or their substance use. Intervention received after completing the ASSIST questionnaire at follow-up (3 months).
BI versus Written Information
Bernstein et al. 2009 [34] Cannabis Structured conversation (in-person, 20 to 30 min.) and written information Peer educators (<25y). Most completed undergraduate education (received one month of training). Initial conversation included feedback on behavior and consequences, menu of options to bring about change, self-efficacy for change, and developing a behavior change plan. Questions from the CRAFFT [52] and a Readiness to Change ruler were used as part of initial conversation. Booster call included reviewing the change plan, inquiring as to progress, and offered referrals. Intervention adapted from a previous study on adult cocaine and heroin use by the same author [17]. Content based MI techniques [51, 53] and previous research [5456]. Adherence to intervention was assessed weekly by investigators and the project coordinator. Taped recordings were scored against an adherence checklist of key intervention elements. All initial sessions met the required 80/100 points on the adherence checklist. no BI + Written Information (risks of cannabis use, available community resources, and list of adolescent treatment facilities).
telephone call (5 to 10 min.) 10 days later.
Zahradnik et al. 2008 [37] Prescription drugs (opioids, anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives, and caffeine) MI session (in-person, 30 to 40 min) Four psychologists, expertise in clinical treatment and research (two weeks of training in MI) Verbal interventions were MI. Specific content not described. MI as described by Hettema et al., [57] as well as the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change [50] With participant consent, sessions were audio taped and coded for consistency by other researchers. Extent of adherence NR. no BI + Written Information (booklet about prescription drugs).
+ Feedback letter included strategies for improving self-efficacy and maintaining changes, where appropriate.
2nd MI (by telephone, 20 to 30 min) 4 weeks later
Throughout the intervention, psychologists communicated the necessity a medical professional supervision when discontinuing or reducing use of prescription medication.
feedback letter 8 weeks after first session
Bernstein et al. 2005 [17] Cocaine and/or heroin MI session (in-person, average 20 min) and written information Peer, experienced substance use outreach worker also in recovery (authors state training was intensive, systematic, and manual-driven). Initial session. A semi-scripted motivational interview tailored to individual behavior, risks, culture and language. Intervention included self-efficacy for change and an action plan for behavior change. Participants received referrals, if desired, and written information (treatment options and harm reduction information about safe sex and needle exchange). None provided. Intervention first developed for Project ASSERT in the emergency department [58] to help patients to recognize and change behaviors posing health risks. Adherence determined through role plays with simulated patients, supervised patient interviews, and completion of a form per patient addressing 12 required elements. Extent of adherence NR. no BI + Written Information
Interventionist indicated to participants ‘based on your screening responses, you would benefit from help with your drug use’. Written information regarding treatment options (for example, detox, AA/NA, acupuncture, and residential treatment facilities) and harm reduction information about safe sex and needle exchange were provided.
telephone call (5 to 10 min.) 10 days later
Telephone call. Reviewed the action plan and addressed alternative referrals, if needed.
  1. aInformation provided by authors.
  2. AA, alcoholics anonymous; ASSIST, alcohol, smoking, and substance involvement screening test; BI, brief intervention; FRAMES, feedback on behavior and consequences, Responsibility to change, Advice, Menu of options to bring about change, Empathy, Self-efficacy for change; MI, motivational interview; min, minutes; NA, narcotics anonymous; NR, not reported; y, years.