Screening Project

ATODA has continued to implement a range of activities to strengthen evidence-based and consistent alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) screening and brief interventions across health and community services in the ACT. This includes work that supports health and community workers to identify ATOD issues, match treatment and support needs, communicate services and referral pathways, and provide ATOD information, including that with a harm reduction focus.

Screening and brief intervention provide a structured approach to undertake early intervention and provide brief support to people who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing, alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems. This intervention can be useful across a range of health and community settings and provides an evidence based and practical approach for workers within these services.


ATODA in partnership with Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA)

The ACT eASSIST provides an evidence-based structured and consistent way for health, community and other workers to:

  • Identify if a client / consumer is experiencing alcohol, tobacco or other drug problems
  • Determine the level of risk of this use to help decide the next steps to take
  • Provide a structured 10 step brief intervention and accurate alcohol, tobacco and other drug information (including through prompts)
  • Produce a feedback report card for clients / consumers regarding the risks associated with their alcohol, tobacco or other drug use
  • Identify an appropriate ACT referral point for specialist alcohol, tobacco or other drug treatment and support.

The ACT eASSIST was developed through a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre at the Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) and is an electronic version of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST), designed by the World Health Organization.

Visit to download the ACT eASSIST

For a promotional flyer click here.

+ATOD Information, Harm Minimisation and Screening and Brief Intervention Training

ATODA & Annie Bleeker Consulting & Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia

ATODA hosted workshops and training opportunities to support health and community services and workers to build their capacity to better identify and respond to ATOD issues. By contacting ATODA, this training can be adapted to the needs of specific services, sectors or populations. Over 70 workers have already been trained in 2014 in the following:

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Information and Harm Reduction Training, Facilitated by Annie Bleeker

Click here to download the training slides.

This training covered:

  • Introduction to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia
  • Policies in the ACT and Australia
  • How drugs are used and their effects
  • Statistics and data
  • Introduction to harm minimisation
  • Harm reduction and safety information and strategies
  • ACT alcohol, tobacco and other drug sector orientation and referrals

ATOD Screening and Brief Intervention (Implementing the ACT eASSIST), Facilitated by Jennifer Harland, DASSA World Health Organization Collaborating Centre

Click here to download the training slides.

This training covered:

  • Overview of screening and brief intervention
  • The ACT electronic Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ACT eASSIST)
  • How to conduct an effective brief intervention using the principles of Motivational Interviewing
  • Adapting the ACT eASSIST and brief intervention to specific populations (e.g. young people, people with co-morbidities, older people)
  • ACT referral options and pathways

+Support to Implement the ACT eASSIST Including Managers Workshop

ATODA continued to support a range of health and community services who are implementing the ACT eASSIST as part of their practice. These services work across a range of sectors including ATOD, youth, mental health, womens health and justice. As part of this work, training was provided to range of stakeholders.

+ACT eASSIST Implementation Pilot

ATODA, CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn, Karralika Programs Inc., Directions, Ted Noffs Foundation ACT, Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy, Toora Women Inc. and Social Research and Evaluation

ACT specialist ATOD services recently conducted an implementation pilot of the ACT eASSIST in six agencies, which was completed in February 2013. Part of the background of the decision to conduct the pilot was the fact that the ACT has a relatively high level of interventions provided to service consumers that are classified as ‘assessment only’. There was an increase in the proportion of assessment only episodes from 13% in 2009–10 to 20% in 2010–11. Some service consumers failed to attend treatment or were assessed as unsuitable, increasing the apparent assessment only episode rate. It was hypothesised that more extensive use of screening and brief intervention instruments would reduce the number and proportion of assessment only with consequent benefits to both the agencies and service users.
The objectives of the eASSIST Implementation Pilot included:

  • A higher proportion of people in contact with ACT ATOD agencies (in the first instance) will be screened and given a targeted brief intervention, including harm reduction information, if warranted.
  • People will be better matched and referred to ACT ATOD services based on identified risk and the severity of the problems they are experiencing (in line with the continuum of care approach identified in the ACT Comorbidity Strategy).
  • Efficiencies will be found, as screening will reduce the number of unnecessary assessment-only interventions.
  • Higher satisfaction of staff and agencies will be attained regarding efficient and effective use of resources (in line with previously identified efficiencies).
  • Service consumers will receive regular feedback related to harm attributable to different risk categories.
  • Services will be better placed to implement outcome measurement, related to screening, in line with Commonwealth Government funding requirements.
  • As a mechanism for facilitating referrals, participating agencies will use more consistent language describing the results of screening.

+ACT eASSIST Implementation Pilot Evaluation

Social Research and Evaluation

Findings of the ACT eASSIST evaluation and discussions include:

  • The instrument is valuable when used in the settings, and with the target groups, with which it is designed to be used (e.g. Sobering Up Shelter, drop-in settings and during outreach). It is not intended for use after service consumers have already received comprehensive assessments as the basis for their admission.
  • The instrument has particular promise for the use in telephone contacts.
  • Screening should be tailored and flexibly applied to ensure it meets the needs of service consumers.
  • All participating services have expressed keenness to have the instrument embedded into operating procedures in some way (which could include familiarity with the tool to accept referrals from outside agencies, and providing leadership in this area).

+Screening for substance use and related issues by specialist alcohol, tobacco and other drug treatment and support services in the ACT: Discussion paper

LeeJenn Health Consultants & ATODA

The ACT ATOD Workers Group and ACT eASSIST Implementation Pilot services suggested that an initial scoping of opportunities related to screening, and some clarification regarding best practice processes would be useful, resulting in the development of this discussion paper. The paper examines the range and feasibility of using screening tools within specialist ATOD treatment and support services and the ATOD sector more broadly.

The discussion paper examines:

  • Purpose of screening in specialist ATOD treatment and support services.
  • The relationship between triage, screening and assessment.
  • Screening instruments available for common issues of concern for ATOD service consumers.
  • Follow-up after screening.
  • Suitable screening tools for specialist ATOD treatment and support services.
  • Suitable triage questions for specialist ATOD treatment and support services.

The paper, and the models contained within, were endorsed by the ACT ATOD Specialist Executive Group on 16 July 2013.

Click here to download the paper.

+ACT eASSIST Poster and Conference Presentations

ACT eASSIST pilot evaluation: An abstract was accepted for a poster presentation at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs Conference in November 2013. To download the poster click here.

ACT eASSIST and the Mental Health, Justice Health and Alcohol and Drug Services Division, ACT Health: A presentation that incorporated information on the usefulness of the ACT eASSIST was provided to the Divisional Comorbidity Forum in March 2014.

ACT eASSIST in mental health services: An abstract has also been accepted for the Mental Health Community Coalition conference in June 2014. More information available soon.

For more information contact:
Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT
(02) 6249 6358

Last updated 21 December 2014