As a group, adolescents are at the highest risk of experiencing lifelong chronic health issues related to substance use. Primary care providers (PCPs) are well-positioned to identify and prevent problematic substance use. However, PCPs often do not recognize the role they can play in mitigating these adverse outcomes or feel they do not have the training to administer effective prevention practices or address risky adolescent substance use.

With funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) promoted opportunities to improve Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) services at the primary care level for adolescents with or at risk for substance use disorders. Seven ACAP Medicaid health plans, serving more than 431,000 adolescents, participated in Improving Access to SBIRT Services for Adolescents, a three-year quality improvement collaborative focused on incorporating SBIRT into primary care practice for targeted at-risk teens. The seven health plans included:

The learning collaborative supported selected health plans in delivering training to their provider sites and measuring progress using a continuous quality improvement framework.