UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Challenges in developing primary care physicians' motivational interviewing skills

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Family Medicine | Health Services Research | Medical Education | Primary Care


INTRODUCTION: Motivational interviewing (MI) skills are relevant for primary care providers (PCPs) who are responsible for caring for patients with diseases affected by behavior. There are significant challenges associated with developing PCP's MI skills. We report on an effort to document the acquisition of MI skills by PCPs using an objective measure of MI competence, the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) coding system.

METHOD: Eleven PCPs volunteered to participate in 6 MI workshops over a period of 6 months and to submit work samples between each of these workshops to be assessed with the MITI coding system.

RESULTS: Thirteen of the expected 55 work samples were submitted before the final workshop. A revised approach was implemented in which each participant completed 2 simulated patient encounters. None of the providers reached the MITI's Beginning Proficiency threshold of MI skill.

DISCUSSION: Six MI workshops were not sufficient to help motivated PCPs achieve Beginning Proficiency as measured by the MITI. Participants failed to submit most of the work samples for feedback on their MI practice, which may have contributed to their limited acquisition of MI skills. Helping PCPs develop MI skills likely requires more than participation in a series of workshops totaling 18 h. Questions remain about the feasibility of training PCPs to be competent in MI. Approaches such as use of simulated patients, peer observation, or specific protected time for obtaining work samples may be required.

DOI of Published Version



Fam Syst Health. 2015 Dec;33(4):330-8. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000145. Epub 2015 Jul 27. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Families, systems and health : the journal of collaborative family healthcare

PubMed ID