Training primary care clinicians in motivational interviewing: A comparison of two models

Steven S. Fu, Craig Roth, Catherine T. Battaglia, David B. Nelson, Melissa M. Farmer, Tam Do, Michael G. Goldstein, Rachel Widome, Hildi Hagedorn, Alan J. Zillich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate implementing two training models for motivational interviewing (MI) to address tobacco use with primary care clinicians. Methods: Clinicians were randomized to moderate or high intensity. Both training modalities included a single 1/2 day workshop facilitated by MI expert trainers. The high intensity (HI) training provided six booster sessions including telephone interactions with simulated patients and peer coaching by MI champions over 3 months. To assess performance of clinicians to deliver MI, an objective structured clinical evaluation (OSCE) was conducted before and 12 weeks after the workshop training. Results: Thirty-four clinicians were enrolled; 18 were randomly assigned to HI. Compared to the moderate intensity group, the HI group scored significantly higher during the OSCE for three of six global Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity scale scores. There was also significant improvement for three of the four measures of MI counseling knowledge, skills and confidence. Conclusions: Using champions and telephone interactions with simulated patients as enhancement strategies for MI training programs is feasible in the primary care setting and results in greater gains in MI proficiency. Practice implications: Results confirm and expand evidence for use of booster sessions to improve the proficiency of MI training programs for primary care clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Rapid Response Project 11-019 . The Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs , Veterans Health Administration , Office of Research and Development and Health Services Research and Development . Dr. Zillich was supported by VA HSR&D Research Career Development Award ( RCD 06-304-1 ). Dr. Widome was supported by a VA HSR&D Career Development Award #09-012 . VA HSR&D had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014.


  • Motivational interviewing
  • Primary care
  • Provider training
  • Tobacco cessation


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