A systematic review of motivational interviewing training for general health care practitioners

Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Jul;84(1):16-26. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.06.025. Epub 2010 Jul 25.


Objective: This article systematically reviews empirical studies that have evaluated different aspects of motivational interviewing (MI) training for general health care professionals.

Methods: Studies were obtained from several databases. To be included, the MI training had to be provided specifically for general health care practitioners for use in their regular face-to-face counselling. The training outcomes had to be linked to the MI training.

Results: Ten studies were found. The median length of the training was 9h. The most commonly addressed training elements were basic MI skills, the MI spirit, recognizing and reinforcing change talk, and rolling with resistance. Most studies involved follow-up training sessions. The study quality varied considerably. Five studies assessed training outcomes at a single point in time, which yields low internal validity. Four studies used random assignment of practitioners to the MI training and comparison conditions. The training generated positive outcomes overall and had a significant effect on many aspects of the participants' daily practice, but the results must be interpreted with caution due to the inconsistent study quality.

Conclusions: The generally favourable training outcomes suggest that MI can be used to improve client communication and counselling concerning lifestyle-related issues in general health care. However, the results must be interpreted with caution due to inconsistent methodological quality of the studies.

Practice implications: This review suggests that MI training outcomes are generally favourable, but more high-quality research is needed to help identify the best practices for training in MI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Communication
  • Directive Counseling / methods*
  • General Practitioners / education*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Motivation*
  • Research Design