Motivational interviewing (MI) as a strategy to promote behavior change has its roots in the addiction field. In recent years there is growing use of MI as an intervention to help patients with diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle changes. This counseling approach initially developed by clinical psychologists is a goal-oriented, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence (Miller & Rollnick, 2002). MI is appealing because it is seen as a practical front-line intervention that is concordant with patient-centered care that is being called for in the health service environment.
This column profiles four published research/synthesis articles describing experiences by different groups in implementing MI strategies. As you will read, results from trials evaluating MI on patient outcomes are mixed and there continues to be gaps in the evidence on how to best implement MI and on which patients will most likely benefit. Even with outstanding questions, MI shows promise in the very challenging area of promoting behavior change and warrants continued investigation. Interested readers are encouraged to read the original articles for more details.