Funded by a grant from the U.S. DHH Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) from 1993‐1997, Project ASSERT has been an ongoing component of safety net services at the Boston Medical Center Emergency Department (ED) since 1998.
Health Promotion Advocates
A team of Health Promotion Advocates (HPAs) consult and collaborate with hospital staff to offer ED patients alcohol and drug screening, brief intervention, and referrals to health and social resources, such as substance abuse treatment and primary care services. Project ASSERT ‘s HPAs affirm the dignity of patients and their cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and values during their hospital visit by establishing a relationship with patients based on emotional support and advocacy. This gives patients an opportunity to consider making healthier changes in a non‐judgmental environment. For patients with risky alcohol and drug use, HPAs have a Brief Negotiated Interview (BNI), a motivational interviewing conversation, to help them explore how ready they are to make any changes, to assist them in developing a behavior change action plan, and to connect them to any needed services.
Project ASSERT served as a model for SAMHSA’s National SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) programs that address the treatment gap for the those with addictions and the unmet needs of the population whose unhealthy alcohol and drug use puts them at risk for injury, illness, legal and mental health and social problems. The Project ASSERT model was recognized in 2012 for the high quality of its supporting research and dissemination materials by SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practice.