Teaching motivational interviewing to first-year medical students to improve counseling skills in health behavior change

Mayo Clin Proc. 2004 Mar;79(3):327-31. doi: 10.4065/79.3.327.


Objective: To examine the effectiveness of motivational interviewing training on improving medical students' knowledge of and confidence in their ability to counsel patients regarding health behavior change.

Subjects and methods: In the spring of 2002, 42 first-year medical students participated in a counseling course on health behavior change. Three small groups focused on learning and practicing motivational interviewing techniques using brief lectures, interactive class activities, student role-plays, and simulated patients. Students completed an identical precourse and postcourse questionnaire that measured their confidence and knowledge regarding counseling skills in health behavior change.

Results: The medical students reported improved confidence in their understanding of motivational interviewing after participation in the course (very confident, 77%) compared with before the course (very confident, 2%). Each of the 8 confidence items were compared before and after the course using a signed rank test. All comparisons indicated a significant improvement (P < .001) in confidence. Regarding knowledge-based questions, students showed significant improvement; 31% of students answered all the questions correctly before the course, and 56% answered all the questions correctly after the course (P = .004).

Conclusion: These results show that teaching motivational interviewing techniques to first-year medical students can enhance student confidence in and knowledge of providing counseling to patients regarding health behavior change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Minnesota
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires