IU's Indiana Prevention Resource Center to enhance alcohol and drug screening as preventive care

June 25, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A successful initiative designed to retool how patients and health care providers discuss alcohol and drug use is being expanded through funding awards and technical assistance provided by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.

Several hundred community health centers across Indiana can apply for the funding and assistance to implement drug and alcohol screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment -- referred to as SBIRT -- which is seeing initial success in community health centers run by Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis and in several others centers across the state.

The initiative began in 2011 when an Indiana Prevention Resource Center-led coalition received an $8.3 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The center is now ramping up availability of the services by awarding $360,000 in seed funding to up to nine community health centers.

The idea behind SBIRT is that risky drinking and drug use, even if below the level of abuse, still can contribute to poor health. Simple annual screening questions could make health care providers -- and patients -- aware of the behavior and potential consequences. While most patients might only encounter the screening questions, others, if necessary, will be asked to talk at greater length with a social worker or other expert or might be asked to consider more formal treatment for addiction.

The screening would become routine preventive care for all patients, just like having blood pressure, height and weight checked.

"It’s an opportunity to talk about alcohol and how it affects one’s health in a non-judgmental way," said Mallori DeSalle, Indiana SBIRT outreach coordinator at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center. "Similar to blood pressure checks at each visit, SBIRT will help patients understand how alcohol or other drug use fits into their overall health and how to make small adjustments to prevent future health concerns."

DeSalle said momentum has been building as Indiana Prevention Resource Center staff have helped primary-care providers at community health centers across Indiana integrate SBIRT services into their patient care. One such center that has seen success is the Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen, Ind.

"SBIRT has transformed our perspective," said Dr. James Nelson Gingerich, physician and medical director at Maple City Health Care Center. "We are more aware of the prevalence of drug, alcohol and depression problems in our neighborhood, and are more confident in our ability to partner with our patients to improve health."

Expanding SBIRT across the state into more centers will assist the Indiana Prevention Resource Center’s effort to promote healthy Hoosiers and expand the positive health outcomes for the entire state.

"Community Health Centers are critical to caring for Hoosiers," said Ann Alley, director of the Office of Primary Care at the Indiana State Department of Health. "SBIRT is an evidence-based program that centers can use to ensure their patients are receiving the very best behavioral and primary care services."

Community health centers across Indiana can apply for funds to be a part of the Indiana SBIRT initiative until July 16. Find out more at www.indianasbirt.org

About SBIRT and the Indiana Prevention Resource Center

Indiana SBIRT is a statewide prevention initiative spearheaded by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center under a contract with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Division of Mental Health and Addiction and funding through a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Indiana Prevention Resource Center is funded, in part, by a contract with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, financially supported through the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. The Indiana Prevention Resource Center is operated by the Department of Applied Health Science at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. It is affiliated with the school’s Institute for Research on Addictive Behavior.

About the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington

The IU School of Public Health-Bloomington is reimagining public health through a comprehensive approach that enhances and expands disease prevention and reshapes how parks, tourism, sports, leisure activities, physical activity and nutrition impact and enhance wellness. Unique in the nation, the school’s multidisciplinary approach, history of community engagement and emerging strengths in epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental health bring new vigor and energy to the traditional concept of a school of public health.

With nearly 3,000 students in an array of undergraduate and advanced degree programs and more than 130 faculty in five academic departments, faculty and students conduct research, learn, teach and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness and disease-prevention topics. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club and individual fitness opportunities.