The efficacy of motivational interviewing: a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003 Oct;71(5):843-61. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.71.5.843.


A meta-analysis was conducted on controlled clinical trials investigating adaptations of motivational interviewing (AMIs), a promising approach to treating problem behaviors. AMIs were equivalent to other active treatments and yielded moderate effects (from .25 to .57) compared with no treatment and/or placebo for problems involving alcohol, drugs, and diet and exercise. Results did not support the efficacy of AMIs for smoking or HIV-risk behaviors. AMIs showed clinical impact, with 51% improvement rates, a 56% reduction in client drinking, and moderate effect sizes on social impact measures (d=0.47). Potential moderators (comparative dose, AMI format, and problem area) were identified using both homogeneity analyses and exploratory multiple regression. Results are compared with other review results and suggestions for future research are offered.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Motivation*