Motivational interviewing, enhancement, and brief interventions over the last decade: A review of reviews of efficacy and effectiveness

Psychol Addict Behav. 2017 Dec;31(8):862-887. doi: 10.1037/adb0000318.


Motivation is a well-established predictor of recovery for addictive behaviors. Treatments aimed at changing substance use and gambling frequently employ motivational enhancing strategies, based in the principles of Motivational Interviewing (MI). Evidence for these approaches across addictive behaviors does not always paint a clear picture. The purpose of this review was to examine existing reviews of motivational-based interventions for various substances of abuse and gambling in the last decade to gain a deeper understanding of the current evidence and implications for future research and clinical practice. Literature searches were conducted to identify review articles from January 1, 2007 to January 30, 2017 for motivational enhancing interventions for alcohol, tobacco, drugs, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, methamphetamines, and gambling. Of the 144 articles assessed we included a total of 34 review articles in our review, including 6 Cochrane reviews. This review supports use of motivationally enhancing interventions across addictive behaviors with strongest evidence supporting use in alcohol and tobacco, with brief interventions showing strong efficacy. There is strong support for MI with marijuana and some support for gambling. Insufficient evidence is available for methamphetamine or opiate use. There are important caveats. In most cases, MI is more effective than no treatment and as effective (but not necessarily more effective) than other active treatments. Findings for effectiveness of more intensive motivational interventions or combinations are mixed. Treatment fidelity assessments, limited subpopulation analyses, and differences in dose, outcomes, and protocol specification continue to pose significant problems for reviews. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Gambling / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome