Student, Faculty, and Field Instructor Approaches to SBIRT Implementation

Implications for Model Fidelity


  • Mohan Vinjamuri Lehman College, CUNY
  • Lydia P. Ogden
  • Jessica M. Kahn



Evidence-based practice, implementation science, SBIRT, model fidelity


Informed by an empirically-based implementation model, this study examined how social work faculty, student, and fieldwork instructor approaches to using the evidence-based SBIRT protocol affected implementation and model fidelity. Data were obtained from two rounds of focus groups with three groups of stakeholders (faculty, students, and fieldwork instructors) about their experiences teaching, learning, using, and supervising SBIRT and were analyzed using a hybrid inductive and deductive process. Analyses yielded three main categories of approaches: those that impeded implementation and model fidelity; those that supported implementation but were not congruent with model fidelity; and those that supported both implementation and model fidelity. Lack of consciousness about model fidelity was an issue across groups. Efforts to find a fit between the protocol, settings, and professional approaches to social work often led to implementation but questionable model fidelity. Repeated exposure to new material and opportunities to engage with it, having specific tools, and supporting learners’ efforts to uphold social work values can promote faithful implementation.


Aarons, G. A., Hurlburt, M., & Horwitz, S. M. (2011). Advancing a conceptual model of evidence-based practice implementation in public service sectors. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 38(1), 4-23.

Acri, M., Hamovitch, E., Mini, M., Garay, E., Connolly, C., & McKay, M. (2017). Testing the 4Rs and 2Ss Multiple Family Group intervention: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 18(588), 1-11.

Atkins, P., & Frederico, M. (2017). Supporting implementation of innovative social work practice: What factors really matter? British Journal of Social Work, 47(6), 1723-1744.

Bellamy, J. L., Bledsoe, S. E., & Traube, D. E. (2006). The current state of evidence-based practice in social work: A review of the literature and qualitative analysis of expert interviews. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 3(1), 23-48.

Bhattacharyya, O., Reeves, S., & Zwarenstein, M. (2009). What is implementation research? Rationale, concepts, and practices. Research on Social Work Practice, 19 (5), 491-502.

Cabassa, L. J. (2016). Implementation science: Why it matters for the future of social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(sup.1), S38-S50.

Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92.

Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S.F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., & Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, The National Implementation Research Network (FMHI Publication #231). Retrieved form

Gambrill, E. (2007). Views of evidence-based practice: Social workers’ code of ethics and accreditation standards as guides for choice. Journal of Social Work Education, 43(3), 447-462.

Gray, M., & Schubert, L. (2012). Sustainable social work: Modeling knowledge production, transfer, and evidence-based practice. International Journal of Social Welfare, 21(2), 203-214.

Hollander, J. A. (2004). The social contexts of focus groups. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 33(5), 602-637.

Kerner, J. F., & Hall, K. L. (2009). Research dissemination and diffusion: Translation within science and society. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(5), 519-530.

Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mildona, R., & Shlonsky, A. (2011). Bridge over troubled water: Using implementation science to facilitate effective services in child welfare. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35, 753-756.

Mitchell, P. M. (2011). Evidence-based practice in real-world services for young people with complex needs: New opportunities suggested by recent implementation science. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 207-216.

Mullen, E. J., Shlonsky, A., Bledsoe, S. E., & Bellamy, J. L. (2005). From concept to implementation: Challenges facing evidence-based social work. Evidence & Policy, 1(1), 61-84.

Ogden, L., Vinjamuri, M. K., & Kahn, J. (2016). A model for implementing an evidence-based practice in student fieldwork placements: Barriers and facilitators to the use of “SBIRT.” Journal of Social Service Research, 42(4), 425-441. doi:

Otto, H., Polutta, A., & Ziegler, H. (2009). Reflexive professionalism as a second generation of evidence-based practice: Some considerations on the special issue, “What works? Modernizing the knowledge-base of social work.” Research on Social Work Practice, 19(4), 472-278.

Palinkas, L. A., He, A. S., Choy-Brown, M., & Hertel, A. L. (2017). Operationalizing social work science through research–practice partnerships: Lessons from implementation science. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(2), 181-188.

Plack, M. M., Driscoll, M., Marquez, M., Cuppernull, L., Maring, J., & Greenberg, L. (2007). Assessing reflective writing on a pediatric clerkship by using a modified Bloom’s taxonomy. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 7(4), 285-291.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). White paper on Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in behavioral healthcare. Retrieved from