Teaching motivational interviewing to first-year medical students to improve counseling skills in health behavior change.
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. 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. 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). 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.