Benefit-cost analysis of SBIRT interventions for substance using patients in emergency departments

Brady P. Horn, Cameron Crandall, Alyssa Forcehimes, Michael T. French, Michael Bogenschutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) has been widely implemented as a method to address substance use disorders in general medical settings, and some evidence suggests that its use is associated with decreased societal costs. In this paper, we investigated the economic impact of SBIRT using data from Screening, Motivational Assessment, Referral, and Treatment in Emergency Departments (SMART-ED), a multisite, randomized controlled trial. Utilizing self-reported information on medical status, health services utilization, employment, and crime, we conduct a benefit-cost analysis. Findings indicate that neither of the SMART-ED interventions resulted in any significant changes to the main economic outcomes, nor had any significant impact on total economic benefit. Thus, while SBIRT interventions for substance abuse in Emergency Departments may be appealing from a clinical perspective, evidence from this economic study suggests resources could be better utilized supporting other health interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Economic evaluation
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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