Motivational interviewing (MI) is a patient-centred approach to behaviour change that was originally developed in the addiction field but has increasingly been applied to public health settings with a focus on health promotion. The purpose of this review was to examine the evidence base for MI interventions in primary care settings with non-clinical populations to achieve behaviour change for physical activity, dietary behaviours and/or alcohol intake. We also sought to explore the specific behaviour change techniques included in MI interventions within primary care. Electronic databases were searched for relevant articles and 33 papers met inclusion criteria and were included. Approximately 50% of the included studies (n = 18) demonstrated positive effects in relation to health behaviour change. The efficacy of MI approaches is unclear given the inconsistency of MI descriptions and intervention components. Furthermore, research designs that do not isolate the effects of MI make it difficult to determine the effectiveness of such approaches. We offer a number of recommendations for researchers and practitioners seeking to include MI within behaviour change interventions to help improve the quality of the research and the effectiveness of MI-based interventions within primary care settings.
Keywords: alcohol intake; behaviour change; dietary behaviour; motivational interviewing; physical activity; primary care; systematic review.