Background: Given that youth alcohol use is more common in rural communities, such communities can play a key role in preventing alcohol use among adolescents. Guidelines recommend primary care providers incorporate screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) into routine care. Objective: The aim is to train primary care providers and school nurses within a rural 10-county catchment area in Pennsylvania to use SBIRT and facilitate collaboration with community organizations to better coordinate substance use prevention efforts. Methods: To build capacity to address underage drinking and opioid use among youth aged 9-20 years, this project uses telehealth, specifically Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), to train primary care providers and school nurses to address substance use with SBIRT. Our project will provide 120 primary care providers and allied health professionals as well as 20 school nurses with SBIRT training. Community-based providers will participate in weekly virtual ECHO sessions with a multidisciplinary team from Penn State College of Medicine that will provide SBIRT training and facilitate case discussions among participants. Results: To date, we have launched one SBIRT ECHO project with school personnel, enrolling 34 participants. ECHO participants are from both rural (n=17) and urban (n=17) counties and include school nurses (n=15), school counselors (n=8), teachers (n=5), administrators (n=3), and social workers (n=3). Before the study began, only 2/13 (15.5%) of schools were screening for alcohol use. Conclusions: This project teaches primary care clinics and schools to use SBIRT to prevent the onset and reduce the progression of substance use disorders, reduce problems associated with substance use disorders, and strengthen communities' prevention capacity. Ours is an innovative model to improve rural adolescent health by reducing alcohol and opioid use.
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