Researchers from Imperial College London may have found a way to increase alcohol screening and brief intervention in a primary care setting: financial incentives. The results, published online Dec. 26 in the Journal of Public Health, show that offering a points-based incentive for successful screening, brief intervention and referral to specialists significantly increased the number of patients who were screened. As a result, the authors say, more patients with risky alcohol intake were identified and offered care, reducing hazardous and harmful drinking in some.
While the evidence for SBIRT is abundant and well-known, there have been considerable problems in promoting widespread implementation - especially in primary care. Financial incentives could be one effective means of changing this. (Granted, a large-scale effort by the federal government or the insurance companies would likely be required to provide funding. In this study, data was collected from 2008-2011, until the UK's Quality and Outcomes Framework funding was withdrawn.)