Motivational interviewing to improve weight loss in overweight and/or obese patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Obes Rev. 2011 Sep;12(9):709-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00892.x. Epub 2011 Jun 21.


Motivational interviewing, a directive, patient-centred counselling approach focused on exploring and resolving ambivalence, has emerged as an effective therapeutic approach within the addictions field. However, the effectiveness of motivational interviewing in weight-loss interventions is unclear. Electronic databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials evaluating behaviour change interventions using motivational interviewing in overweight or obese adults. Standardized mean difference (SMD) for change in body mass, reported as either body mass index (BMI; kg m(-2) ) or body weight (kg), was the primary outcome, with weighted mean difference (WMD) for change in body weight and BMI as secondary outcomes. The search strategy yielded 3540 citations and of the 101 potentially relevant studies, 12 met the inclusion criteria and 11 were included for meta-analysis. Motivational interviewing was associated with a greater reduction in body mass compared to controls (SMD = -0.51 [95% CI -1.04, 0.01]). There was a significant reduction in body weight (kg) for those in the intervention group compared with those in the control group (WMD = -1.47 kg [95% CI -2.05, -0.88]). For the BMI outcome, the WMD was -0.25 kg m(-2) (95% CI -0.50, 0.01). Motivational interviewing appears to enhance weight loss in overweight and obese patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / psychology*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weight Loss*