The Need

All nurses encounter patients with unhealthy alcohol use or alcohol use disorders.

Harmful alcohol use is associated with more than 200 different negative health outcomes. Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy creates the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Nurses receive little or no training on how to address the topic of alcohol with a patient although they are in a good position to intervene.

Busy working nurses need training opportunities that fit conveniently into their schedules.

The Solution

Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) is an evidence-based approach to reducing patient alcohol use.

IRETA collaborated with The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to develop alcohol SBI online training modules for nurses.

Collectively, the work group reviewed the components of alcohol SBI and found suitable material for the target audience. Material from the CDC publication Planning and implementing screening and brief intervention for risky alcohol use: A step-by-step guide for primary care practices was used as a starting point for adaptation.

IRETA created an online course about alcohol SBI with four core modules, six population-specific modules, and three role-specific modules. The course content was designed for both students of nursing and practicing licensed nurses.

  • The core modules are titled “Alcohol SBI 101,” “FASD 101,” “Medication 101: The Impact of Alcohol,” and “Implementation Basics of Alcohol SBI.”
  • The population-themed modules cover 18-20 year olds, people who may become pregnant, LGBTQ+ persons, veterans, people with other medical conditions, and older adults.
  • The role-specific modules are designed for clinical nurse leaders, nurse administrators, and informatics specialists.

Sixteen nursing students piloted the modules, taking pre- and post-tests for evaluation purposes.

The Results

The evaluation showed that several measured outcomes relating to perception of alcohol problems improved significantly.

Pilot participants felt more knowledgeable about their work. On a scale from 1 to 5 their self-rating rose from a median of 2.6 to 3.9. Before taking the course, participants gave their level of perceived role support as 2.9. Afterward it grew to 3.6. This factor means participants felt more support from colleagues in dealing with alcohol use in their patients. Their work satisfaction increased from 3.3 to 3.9.

These online training modules were made available for Johns Hopkins University nursing students.


IRETA also collaborates with the CDC and other groups on another project that builds nurses’ knowledge of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

IRETA designs and offers additional online courses, available here.