Teaching Motivational Interviewing to First-Year Medical Students to Improve Counseling Skills in Health Behavior Change

Poirier, Maria K.; Clark, Matthew M.; Cerhan, Jane H.; Pruthi, Sandhya; Geda, Yonas E.; Dale, Lowell C.
March 2004
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Mar2004, Vol. 79 Issue 3, p327
Academic Journal
• Objective: To examine the effectiveness of motivational interviewing training on improving medical students' knowledge of and confidence in their ability to counsel patients regarding health behavior change. • Subjects and Methods: In the spring of 2002,42 first-year medical students participated in a counseling course on health behavior change. Three small groups focused on learning and practicing motivational interviewing techniques using brief lectures, interactive class activities, student role-plays, and simulated patients. Students completed an identical precourse and postcourse questionnaire that measured their confidence and knowledge regarding counseling skills in health behavior change. • Results: The medical students reported improved confidence in their understanding of motivational interviewing after participation in the course (very confident, 77%) compared with before the course (very confident, 2%). Each of the 8 confidence items were compared before and after the course using a signed rank test. All comparisons indicated a significant improvement (P<001) in confidence. Regarding knowledge-based questions, students showed significant improvement; 31% of students answered all the questions correctly before the course, and 56% answered all the questions correctly after the course (P=.004). • Conclusion: These results show that teaching motivational interviewing techniques to first-year medical students can enhance student confidence in and knowledge of providing counseling to patients regarding health behavior change.


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