Why Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing is a great skill for any physician to have.


Many of us have felt frustrated when, for the third or fourth time, we’ve told someone all of the many reasons they need to quit smoking and they say, “I know but…”


And yet, this is a natural expression of the patient’s ambivalence*. If you make the arguments for, they will respond with the arguments against. Then the patient, having verbalized these arguments against, comes away with a renewed sense of confidence in their bad decision.


*Dictionary.com defines ambivalence as “the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.”


If you instead uses Motivational Interviewing, and encourage the patient to express both sides of the story, then the patient is the one to verbalize the reasons to change, which is a powerful thing.


In this meta-analysis –which included 11 randomized, controlled trials involving over 1,400 subjects–patients who received motivational interviewing coaching from a health care provider had significantly more weight loss than those who were in the control group. The overall difference in weight was modest, but promising. More studies are needed to assess the full effect MI has: So far, the longest length of any of these studies was approx 2 years, and change does take time.


For more about the background of MI in general, check out motivationalinterviewing.org.