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NIDA. (2010, December 1). Program Enhances Physician Knowledge on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from

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December 01, 2010

Although substance abuse can have significant health consequences, most medical schools do not provide future primary care physicians with adequate training on addiction. To address this situation, NIDA funded the development of the Chief Resident Immersion Training (CRIT) program in addiction medicine, which started in 2002.

An evaluation of the CRIT program at the Boston University School of Medicine was recently conducted by Program Directors Drs. Jeffrey H. Samet and Daniel P. Alford and colleagues. They evaluated 64 chief residents who had participated in the CRIT program from 2003 to 2005. The researchers found that CRIT improved knowledge, confidence, and preparedness to diagnose, manage, and teach about substance abuse.

CRIT program developers chose chief residents because these young physicians help teach medical students and residents and often go on to other leadership roles. During the 4-day program, participants received science-based resources and teaching tools on substance abuse and met with individuals in recovery. They learned teaching techniques and, working with faculty mentors, developed plans to share newly learned knowledge and skills about substance abuse with other staff at their home institutions.

When retested immediately after the program, participants achieved an average score of 78 on a multiple-choice exam covering addiction neurobiology, screening, referral options, pharmacotherapy, and relapse, compared with 67 at the start of the training. The program also had a longer-term impact: 6 months after the training, 97 percent of participants reported being either more or much more likely to incorporate information on substance abuse into teaching than before the training. All the participants had developed a teaching project related to substance abuse, and 86 percent reported that these had an impact on their residency program curriculum. For more information on the CRIT program, see


Alford, D.P., et al. Promoting substance use education among generalist physicians: An evaluation of the Chief Resident Immersion Training (CRIT) program. Journal of General Internal Medicine 24(1):40–47, 2009. [Full Text (PDF, 225KB)]