In Motivational interviewing (MI) providers facilitate patient's ability to find their internal motivation for behavior change. This method is commonly used in combination with CBT in order to expand the use of coping skills taught for chronic illness management. Our readings and lecture provide an overview of MI, but recent literature has been published on the application of these principles to specific medical conditions. Using this week's article (see course module) and one additional article of your choice, comment on whether or not you personally view MI strategies as helpful when working with chronically ill patients. Please provide the reference for your selected article and attach it to your original response.
Motivational Interviewing For Behavior Change
+ Behavior Change Conversations
n Health care providers often find themselves having multiple conversations with patients regarding behavior change.
n It is sometimes difficult for them to know HOW to approach these conversations.
n For example: n Should they explain to patients what they should do differently?
n Should they advise them or persuade them to change?
n Should they warn them and explain the consequences of not changing their behavior?
n Should they refer them to a different provider specialist?
+ Motivational Interviewing (MI)
n MI has been found effective in fostering CHANGE across a wide range of behaviors.
n It works by activating patients’ own motivation for change and adherence to treatment.
n It is based on the premise that motivation for change is malleable and formed in the context of the patient-provider relationship. n When a patient seems unmotivated to change or take the sound
advice of practitioners, it is often assumed that there is something ‘wrong’ with the patient and that there is not much that can be done. These assumptions are usually FALSE. No patient is completely unmotivated.
+ Why Use MI?
n The way in which we talk to patients about their health can significantly influence their motivation for behavior change.
n MI is a skillful style that allows providers to elicit their own good motivations for making behavior changes in the interest of their health.
n MI is based on guiding principles that are not directive in nature.
n MI can be best visualized as a dance (vs. wrestling) or as listening (rather than telling).
+ The ‘Spirit” of MI
n COLLABORATIVE n Based on a provider-patient partnership and a joint decision-
n EVOCATIVE n MI seeks to evoke from patients what they already have instead of
attempting to giving them what they are lacking
n HONORS PATIENT AUTONOMY n MI requires a certain degree of detachment from the outcome; an
acceptance that people can and do make choices about the course of their lives. It is the acknowledging of the patient’s right of freedom not to change that sometimes makes change possible.
+ MI’s 4 Guiding Principles
RESIST – UNDERSTAND – LISTEN – EMPOWER
n To resist the righting reflex
n To understand and explore the patient’s own motivations
n To listen with empathy
n To empower the patient
+ Resisting the Righting Reflex
n Health care providers often have a powerful desire to ‘set things right’, prevent harm, and promote well-being.
n As such, their urge to correct another’s course often becomes ‘automatic’.
n This inclination can have a paradoxical effect on patients because it is natural for individuals to resist persuasion, particularly in the face of ambivalence.
n Because we tend to believe what we hear ourselves say, we need to be careful in eliciting interactions that lead patients to verbalize the disadvantages of change.
+ Understanding the Patient’s Motivations
n Behavior change is more likely to be triggered by the patient’s own reasons for change (not the therapists’)
n MI explores and evokes patient’s perceptions about their current situations and their own motivations for change.
n It is the patient who should voice the arguments for behavior change.
+ Listening to Your Patient
n MI involves as much listening as informing.
n Although patients might have the expectation that providers have all of the answers, patients are the experts when it comes to their own behavior change.
n Listening empathically to the patient will allow providers to find these answers
+ Empowering the Patient
n Empowerment involves helping patients explore how they can make a difference in their own health.
n The provider’s role is to support the patient’s hope that change is possible and that it can have an impact on their health.
n The goal is to actively involve the patient in the consultation. Patient’s who think aloud about the why and how of change are more likely to do something afterward.
+ MI Communication
n Providers using MI should have the feeling that they are ‘dancing’ with their patients.
n The provider’s stance in relation to the patient is easy and less conflict-ridden than in a directive style.
n “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they
have themselves discovered than by those which have come in to the mind of others”
– Blaise Pascal
+ Communication Styles
n A communication style refers to an attitude and approach to helping patients, a way of talking with them that characterizes the provider’s relationship with them.
n Different communication styles are used for different purposes.
n The three MI communication styles are: n Following n Directing n Guiding n These exist along a continuum with following at one end, directing
at the other, and guiding in the middle. n Each style is appropriate for a particular task
n This style has no agenda to achieve rather than seeing and understanding the world through the other’s eyes.
n LISTENING predominates; the provider follows the patient’s lead.
n It communicates the messages: n “I won’t change or push you” n “I trust your wisdom about yourself and I’ll let you work this out in
your own time and at your own pace”
n Synonyms for “following”: n Go along with, allow, permit, be responsive, have faith in, go after,
attend, take in, shadow, understand, observe
n The provider takes charge in this approach.
n It implies an uneven relationship with regard to knowledge, expertise, authority, or power.
n This style communicates: n “I know how you can solve this problem” n “I know what you should do”
n Patients often appear to expect this take-charge approach
n Synonyms for “directing include: n Manage, lead, take charge, determine, steer, prescribe, tell, point
toward, administer, authorize, show the way, take command
n A guide helps others find their way.
n The guide does not determine what others see or do
n A good guide knows what is possible and can offer alternatives from which to choose.
n This style communicates: n “I can help you to solve this for yourself”
n Synonyms for “guiding” include: n Enlighten, encourage, motivate, support, look after, accompany,
take along, elicit, awaken.
+ Mix & Match
n The three styles are often intermixed.
n Skillfulness in communication involves flexible shifting among them according to the patient and situation.
n Providers should avoid falling into the ‘trap’ of expressing themselves in a directing style when intending to assess, diagnose, or follow-up with patients. This can compromise the quality of care.
n A directing style is appropriate in many circumstances and can be used skillfully, but it should not be the only way providers interact with patients.
n Problems are solved more effectively with a balanced mixture of styles.
n Health outcomes are often highly influenced by and dependent on the patient’s own behavioral choices – on doing something new or differently.
n Behaviors that have a major effect on the course of a patient’s health or illness and over which providers have little or no direct control include: smoking, drinking, diet, exercise, medication adherence, etc.
n Guiding is well suited to helping people solve behavior-change problems. MI is a refined form of this guiding style.
n A practitioner using MI will use a guiding style paying particular attention to how to help the patient make his or her own decisions about behavior change.
n Although MI could be considered a form of guiding, not all guiding is MI!!!!
+ Conclusion (continued)
n MI is specifically goal-directed. Often the practitioner has a specific behavior change goal in mind and gently guides the patient to consider why and how he or she might pursue that goal.
n In MI, the provider pays attention to certain aspects of the patient’s language and actively seeks to evoke the patient’s own arguments for change.
n MI involves competence in a well-defined set of clinical skills and strategies that are used to evoke behavior change.
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Practice Competent Novice
Motivational interviewing BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1900 (Published 27 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1900
Stephen Rollnick, professor1, Christopher C Butler, professor1, Paul Kinnersley, professor1, John Gregory, professor2, Bob Mash, professor3
Department of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4XN Department of Child Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa 7505
Correspondence to: S Rollnick [email protected]
Accepted 18 March 2010
Motivational interviewing has been shown to promote behaviour change in a wide range of healthcare settings
Simply giving patients advice to change is often unrewarding and ineffective
Motivational interviewing uses a guiding style to engage with patients, clarify their strengths and aspirations, evoke their own motivations for change, and promote autonomy of decision making
You can learn motivational interviewing in three steps: practise a guiding rather than directing style; develop strategies to elicit the patient’s own motivation to change; and refine your listening skills and respond by encouraging change talk from the patient
Motivational interviewing has been shown to promote behaviour change in various healthcare settings and can improve the doctor-patient relationship and the efficiency of the consultation
Discussion about change occurs in almost every branch of medicine, and goes beyond the “big four” lifestyle habits (smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet), to also include the use of aids, devices, or medicines. Patients often seem ambivalent or unmotivated, and clinicians typically try to advise them to change, using a directing style, which in turn generates resistance or passivity in the patient
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(see box 1). Motivational interviewing is an alternative approach to discussing behaviour change that fosters a constructive doctor-patient relationship and leads to better outcomes for patients.1
Motivational interviewing involves helping patients to say why and how they might change, and is based on the use of a guiding style.2 A recent systematic review that included 72 studies found that motivational interviewing outperformed traditional advice giving in 80% of studies.3 With practice, time can be saved by avoiding unproductive discussion and by using rapid engagement to focus on the changes that make a difference.
How best to do it Step 1: practise the guiding style Among the broad communication styles commonly used to address patients’ problems are directing, guiding, and following.2 Although each is appropriate to certain situations in everyday practice, a guiding style is best suited to consultations about change. When this topic comes up, shift your stance from that of a director to that of a well informed guide, and follow three principles: engage with and work in collaboration with patients, emphasise their autonomy over decision making, and elicit their motivation for change. You retain control over the direction and structure of the consultation and provide information as needed, but you ensure that your patients retain responsibility for change. Box 1 shows the contrast in styles between directing and guiding.
Box 1 Contrasting styles Directing style: “OK, so your weight is putting your health at serous risk. You already have early diabetes. (Patient often resists at this point.) . . . Overweight is conceptually very simple, if you think about it. Too much in, not enough out. So you need to eat less and exercise more. There no way you can get around that simple fact.” (Patient replies with a “yes, but . . .” argument.)
Guiding style: “OK, let’s have a look at this together and see what you think. From my side, losing some weight and getting more exercise will help your diabetes and your health, but what feels right for you? (Patient often expresses ambivalence at this point.) . . . So you can see the value of these things, but you struggle to see how you can succeed at this point in time. OK. It’s up to you to decide when and how to make any changes. I wonder, what sort of small changes might make sense to you? (Patient says how change might be possible.)
Use three core skills—asking, listening, and informing—in the service of this guiding style to draw out your patients’ ideas and solutions.2 This shows that you want to know about and respect their ability to make sound decisions.
“Ask” open ended questions—invite the patient to consider how and why they might change;
“Listen” to understand your patient’s experience—“capture” their account with brief summaries or reflective listening statements such as “quitting smoking feels beyond you at the moment”; these express empathy, encourage the patient to elaborate, and are often the best way to respond to resistance;
“Inform”—by asking permission to provide information, and then asking what the implications might
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be for the patient.
Once you have practised these three skills, and once you feel comfortable with the shift from director to guide, you can add to your toolbox a set of strategies containing specific questions that are suited to different circumstances.
Step 2: add useful strategies to your toolbox Motivational interviewing aims to elicit the motivation to change from the patient, rather than to try to instil this in them; it also aims to work with their strengths rather than just talk about problems and weaknesses. Different strategies are available to achieve these aims in a guiding style, eliciting the what, why, and how of change from the patient. This “menu of strategies”4 has been used successfully among college students to reduce use of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis.5
Agenda setting (what to change?) Patients often face more than one option for change. In agenda setting, rather than impose your priority on patients, you conduct an overview by inviting them to select an issue or behaviour that they are most ready and able to tackle, feeling free also to express your own views.2 For example, to reach agreement about what to deal with in the consultation you might say: “That’s very helpful. Are you more ready to focus on eating or on increased activity? Or is there some other topic that you would prefer to talk about? I’d like to talk about those test results at some point, but what makes sense to you right now?”
Pros and cons (why change?) It is normal and common for patients to feel in two minds about both the status quo and change. It can be helpful to invite them to say how they see the pros and cons of a situation. Then your next step is to ask them to clarify whether change is a possibility (box 2).
Box 2 Seeing the pros and cons “I want to try to understand your smoking better from your perspective, both the benefits for you and the drawbacks. Can I ask you firstly what you like about your smoking?” (Patient responds. Use your curiosity to elicit a good understanding.)
“Now can I ask you what you don’t like about your smoking?” (Patient responds. Remember it’s their experience that counts, so avoid offering your perspective for the time being.)
(Then you summarise both sides, as briefly as possible, capturing the words and phrases that the patient came up with.) “OK, so let’s see if I have this right? You like the fact that smoking helps you unwind and, addicted or not, you like that first smoke in the morning. On the other hand, your main concern is about its effect on your health. Is that about right? OK.”
(Then you invite the patient to consider the next step.) “So where does that leave you now?” (Patient usually describes readiness and any need for advice or information.)
Assess importance (why) and confidence (how) To be efficient you need to spend time where it is most needed. Those who are not convinced of the importance of change are unlikely to benefit from advice about how to change, and a focus on the why of change is pointless if the main issue is how to achieve it. This focused strategy (box 3) has produced
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successful outcomes in the smoking field,6 where a recent review also provides support for the efficacy of motivational interviewing.7
Box 3 Assessing importance and confidence “Would you mind if we took a moment to see exactly how you feel about using these tablets? (An invitation promotes collaboration and patient autonomy.)
“How important is taking this medicine for you right now?” (Elicit a brief review of patient’s feelings, fears, and aspirations, then ask:) “How confident do you feel about taking these tablets regularly?” (Elicit, and then summarise patient’s view of importance and confidence.)
(Then tailor your next step accordingly—for example, if importance is low, consider something like:) “Well, do you mind if I just give you some information about how these tablets might help, but it will be up to you to decide in the end.” (Emphasising autonomy always helps.)
Exchange information One of the first successful studies of motivational interviewing placed listening at the centre during feedback of test results.8 This gave rise to the “elicit-provide-elicit” strategy (box 4), in which a guiding style is used to encourage patients to clarify the personal implications of information that you provide.
Box 4 Information exchange “OK so can I check your understanding of the situation? What do you know about the risks of being overweight?” (Elicit understanding.) . . . “Well you are right about it being very common and that people are generally living longer, but as you say it does put an extra strain on the heart and causes diabetes, which again affects the heart, kidney, and so on. It also causes high blood pressure. (Provide information.) OK, now can I ask, how do you think this information applies to you?” (Elicit patient’s interpretation.)
Make decisions about change (setting goals) Goals and targets for change that come only from your side are often met with “Yes, but. . .” explanations about why they will not work from the patient. Box 5 shows how you can, if the patient is ready for it, use a guiding style to elicit practical solutions from the patient and offer suggestions from your side as well.
Box 5 Making decisions “It sounds like you really want to try quitting smoking, but you’re struggling with imagining how you can do it. (Summarising the patient’s situation.)
“It will be up to you to decide when and how to do it (emphasising the patient’s freedom of choice) but I am wondering how do you see yourself succeeding with this? (Inviting the patient to envision change. Patient responds, usually identifying main challenges.)
“So you are hoping you can find a way of breaking through the withdrawal period. (Listening, in response to what patient has said.) There are all sorts of quitting aids that others have found useful, but what makes sense to you? (Inviting patient to clarify what will be helpful.) Or maybe you want to bring your husband down to talk with us so we can all make a plan together?” (Patient clarifies what will be helpful, and the discussion narrows down in favour of a plan that is agreed jointly.)
Step 3: respond skilfully to patients’ language
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You can refine your skills further by paying attention to the language that patients use.9 You will notice that they talk about why or how they might change (this is called change talk)—“I guess I should take my medicine more regularly”; “I want to quit smoking”; “I am going to eat less fried food”—or about the opposite: “I don’t like tablets”; “I enjoy my smoking”; “I’ve never succeed in losing weight.” You can choose whether to elicit change talk or not. The assumption is that if you do, motivation to change will be enhanced, and subsequent change is more likely take place.9 Box 6 shows how a doctor elicits change talk and responds to it with further listening. Many of the questions shown in step 2 are useful because they elicit change talk—for example, “How important is it for you to take this medicine?”
Box 6 Eliciting change talk A young refugee with HIV-AIDS is pregnant and faces the need to take antiretroviral therapy appropriately and make lifestyle changes.
Doctor: How are things at home?
Mother: Well my husband agrees I should take the pills to have a healthy baby but he doesn’t want to use condoms.
Doctor: What would be most helpful for us to start talking about? Is it condoms, your medication, or something else? (Brief agenda-setting)
Mother: I want to talk about the medicine. (Change talk)
Doctor: That’s fine, we can come back to other things. What would you most like to know about the medicine? (Eliciting: the start of information exchange)
Mother: If I miss taking my medicine I worry that it will bring harm. (Change talk)
Doctor: You would like to take this medicine every day. (Listening)
Patient: I want to. (Change talk)
Doctor: (Informing) It can be difficult to take the medicine at the right time each day, yet it is important. Even if people are feeling better and stronger, the medicine keeps them healthy, so it’s important to keep taking it. What’s the difficulty for you? (Eliciting the patient’s personal interpretation of the information)
Mother: I miss them because I hide this all from my mother, and she can see what I am doing all the time.
Doctor: You struggle to take them at the same time each day. (Listening)
Patient: Yes, I want to keep well (change talk), but she looks strangely at me.
Doctor: Can you think of any ways in which you can change the time and place that you take medicine? (Asking)
Mother: Maybe I will do this when I go to the toilet after she has gone to bed. (Change talk)
Doctor: You can see that working for you. (Listening)
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Mother: It must work. I must do something like this. (Change talk)
Doctor summarises what’s been said and uses agenda setting once again to offer the patient a choice of talking about disclosure of her HIV status to others, improving her diet, or safe sex.
One line of research has been to examine whether motivational interviewing improves outcomes. A recent meta-analysis of 119 studies concluded that it exerts a small but positive effect across a wide range of problem domains, but not in all.10 Another line of research has been to study language and change talk. For example, if people struggling with alcohol and other drugs offer more change talk in counselling, their outcomes in regard to substance use are better;11 12 13 moreover, practitioners who are competent in motivational interviewing elicit more change talk, independent of the motivation of the patient.11
What are the challenges? Any skilful task in medicine takes time to learn. Training, supervision, and feedback on performance will allow you to save time by using efficient questions suited to your personality, the patient, and the setting (see box 6). Motivational interviewing has been shown to be effective in settings where time constraints are paramount, like accident and emergency departments.14 15
The biggest challenge is usually with the shift in style and attitude involved. This includes letting go of what has been called the “righting reflex,”2 the tendency to identify a problem and solve it for the patient (see box 1), and instead, enabling the patient to do this work for themselves. This can leave you feeling that you will lose control of the consultation. We suggest that you retain control of the overall direction of the consultation, and hand over to the patient control about the what, why, and how of change. You certainly can and should offer your views and expertise, but within a style that is collaborative and emphasises the patient’s freedom to make any final decision.
Conclusion Motivational interviewing is not a quick fix method, let alone a set of clever techniques for getting patients to do what they otherwise would not want to do.16 It is not done “to” or “on” patients, but “with” or “for” them. It can be used in any consultation about change, and evidence of its effectiveness is growing. It is helpful to consider your patient as your teacher. If he or she responds positively, and becomes an active participant in talk about change, this feedback tells you that you are doing a good job.
Top 10 useful questions
What changes would you most like to talk about?
What have you noticed about . . .?
How important is it for you to change . . .?
How confident do you feel about changing . . .?
How do you see the benefits of . . .?
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How do you see the drawback of . . .?
What will make the most sense to you?
How might things be different if you . . .?
In what way . . .?
Where does this leave you now?
Notes Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1900
Footnotes This series aims to help junior doctors in their daily tasks and is based on selected topics from the UK core curriculum for foundation years 1 and 2, the first two years after graduation from medical school.
We thank William R Miller and Terri Moyers for feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.
Contributors: All authors contributed to the original draft of this paper and to subsequent revisions, and reviewed the final manuscript. SR, CB, PK, and BM provided clinical illustrations. SR saw the final revisions through to publication and is the guarantor.
Competing interests: None declared.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
References 1. Miller WR, Rollnick S. Motivational interviewing: preparing people for change . 2nd ed. Guilford Press, 2002.
2. Rollnick S, Miller WR, Butler C. Motivational interviewing in health care: helping patients change behavior . Guilford Press, 2008.
3. Rubak S, Sandbaek A, Lauritzen T, Christensen B. Motivational interviewing: a systematic review and meta- analysis. Br J Gen Pract 2005;55:305-12.
4. Rollnick S, Mason P, Butler C. Health behavior change: a guide for practitioners . Churchill Livingstone, 1999.
5. McCambridge J, Strang J. The efficacy of single-session motivational interviewing in reducing drug c
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