Promoting Motivational Interviewing in Primary Care: More Than Intention

PRiMER. 2021 Feb 4;5:7. doi: 10.22454/PRiMER.2021.287928. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Interacting with patients in a manner that furthers self-responsibility for health is an important skill for primary care clinicians. Motivational interviewing (MI) is such an approach to patient engagement, but it remains to be more widely implemented. In a program training health professionals and health professions students in MI, we examined posttraining attitudes and intentions regarding the utilization of MI. Of particular interest was how posttraining intentions were associated with self-reported action 1 month later.

Methods: We obtained immediate posttraining and 30-day follow-up data from 209 participants regarding intent to utilize the MI approach (self-reported implementation at the follow-up interval), impact on confidence with patient interaction, and perceived importance of the training. We analyzied frequencies and percentages for all categorical/ordinal variables to describe the participants and the survey question responses.

Results: While 91.5% of participants intended to incorporate MI into their approach with patients (to a moderate or great extent) at posttraining, only 48.7% reported that they had actually implemented the MI approach (to a moderate or great extent) 30 days later. However, another 32.1% indicated that they had occasionally utilized MI. Attitudes toward the importance of MI training and the impact of training on confidence remained strong over the 30 days.

Conclusion: Achieving more widespread implementation of the MI approach in the primary care setting is likely to be less dependent on convincing clinicians about its importance for patient engagement, but rather on the translation of intent to actual practice and implementation.