How effective is Motivational Interviewing?

One of the most popular tools used by health coaches is Motivational Interviewing (MI). So, how does this tool impact coachees? Justin Mifsud at the University of Malta performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on MI’s impact on individuals at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The meta-analysis covered 12 studies, and the preliminary findings indicate that MI may support individuals mitigate cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk through lifestyle changes. 
Within the research by Mifsud et al., Motivational Interviewing is described as a directive, expert-driven form of counseling that involves reflective listening and non-judgement from the practitioner. The following are key principles for effective MI provided by the researchers:
  1. Clinician ability to express empathy

  2. Promotion of client self-efficacy

  3. Recognize client resistance/ambivalence expressed by lifestyle changes 

  4. Working with clients when they recognize potential discrepancies between their current circumstances/desired future goals 

Armed with this background on MI, the primary review questions are:
  1. Is MI effective in supporting adults at increased risk of cardiovascular disease to make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce cardiovascular risk?

  2. What are the characteristics of MI interventions that support risk factor modification?

The results of the study by Mifsud et al. found that across their meta-analysis that MI as an intervention has indications of effectiveness for lowering cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, metabolic risk, and anthropometric measurements. They conclude that adopting a motivational style to counseling for at risk individuals with CVD can be beneficial, but the limitation of only 12 studies analyzed requires further exploration. 
For coaches, this meta-analysis study is beneficial in that it showcases measurable health benefits achieved through Motivational Interviewing for patients with cardiovascular risk. Understanding how to utilize MI as a tool to assist your coachees’ health can be a great benefit to those you work with. 

IOC's Tips of the Week are authored by Austin Matzelle