Dental hygienists’ use of motivational interviewing and perceptions of effectiveness in changing patient behaviors

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BACKGROUND: The University of Minnesota (UMN) Dental Hygiene (DH) program devotes considerable time developing students' competency using motivational interviewing (MI). However, the extent to which graduates use MI in clinical practice and their perceptions of MI effectiveness in changing behavior is unknown.

METHODS: A cross-section of UMN dental hygiene classes from 2010-2019 were emailed an electronic survey using Qualtrics xm software (n = 208). The survey instrument collected demographic information and queried respondents' current MI use and perceptions of its effectiveness in changing patients' behavior. Survey questions were aligned with the constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB): attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. Data analyses included descriptive statistics, cross-tabulations, and one-way ANOVA tests.

RESULTS: There were 73 responses for a 35% response rate and 58 surveys (28%) included in data analysis. Respondents (95%) used MI, held positive attitudes toward MI and perceived MI to be an effective behavior counseling method (98%). However, respondents expressed concerns about patients' abilities to change behaviors. The three TPB constructs were found to be predictors of MI use in the clinical environment. A significant association was found between age and the TPB construct: behavioral control (p = 0.02).

CONCLUSION: The majority of respondents reported using MI in clinical practice. According to the TPB, respondents exhibited strong behavioral intentions to use MI. Respondents held favorable attitudes toward MI and believed it to be effective in motivating positive behavior change. Respondents were confident in their MI skills and felt supported to use MI in their work environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-917
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number8
Early online dateMar 20 2022
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Dental Education published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Dental Education Association.


  • behavior change
  • clinical practice
  • communication
  • dental hygiene education
  • dental hygiene practice
  • health behavior
  • motivational interviewing
  • oral health education
  • patient–provider interaction

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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