Screening and brief interventions for substance use in emergency departments in the Western Cape province of South Africa: views of health care professionals

International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion


Katherine Sorsdahla, Bronwyn Myersab, Cathy Wardc, Richard Matzopoulosde, Bulelwa Mtukushea, Andrew Nicolf & Dan J. Steina


As part of the formative phase of screening and brief interventions (SBIs) for substance use amongst patients presenting for emergency services in South Africa, the present study explored health care providers’ attitudes and perceptions towards SBI. Twenty-four health care providers working in two 24-hour emergency departments (EDs) were interviewed using an open-ended semi-structured interview schedule designed to identify factors that may hinder or promote the implementation of SBI for substance use in these settings. All respondents felt that screening patients for substance use in EDs is possible; however, they emphasised the need for an additional staff member dedicated to these activities. Secondly, they felt this dedicated individual should meet certain educational criteria and be from a specific socio-demographic background in order to increase the likelihood of intervention uptake. Thirdly, a number of patient- and clinic-level barriers were revealed that could potentially hinder the successful implementation of SBIs in EDs.

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