Motivational interviewing within the different stages of change: An analysis of practice nurse-patient consultations aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle

Janneke Noordman*, Emely de Vet, Trudy van der Weijden, Sandra van Dulmen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Combining the Stages of Change (SOC) model with Motivational Interviewing (MI) is seen as a helpful strategy for health care providers to guide patients in changing unhealthy lifestyle behaviour. SOC suggests that people are at different stages of motivational readiness for engaging in health behaviours and that intervention methods are most useful when tailored to a person's stage of change. However, it is unknown whether practice nurses (PNs) actually adapt their MI and more generic communication skills to a particular stage during real-life face-to-face consultations with their patients. The aim of this study was to explore whether and how PNs apply MI and general communication skills to the different SOC of patients, targeting behaviour change about smoking, alcohol use, dietary habits and/or physical activity. Real-life consultations between nineteen Dutch PNs and 103 patients were recorded on video between June 2010 and March 2011. All consultations focused on a discussion of patients' lifestyle behaviour. The Behaviour Change Counselling Index (BECCI) was used to code PNs' MI skills. Generic communication skills were rated with the MAAS-global. Patients' SOC was assessed for each consultation by observing the communication between patient and PN regarding the patient's current lifestyle behaviour. Multilevel analyses revealed that PNs adapt their MI skills to a patient's SOC to some extent. On average PNs apply MI skills more to patients in the preparation stage (P <0.05) than during the other stages of change. PNs adjusted three MI skills and one generic communication skill to patients' SOC. This explorative study suggests that, at least to some extent, PNs intuitively assess the stage of patients' readiness to change and tailor their communication accordingly. However, differences between the stages were small. By teaching PNs to explicitly identify patients' SOC they could further enhance and adapt their MI and general communication skills to the individual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • The Netherlands
  • Lifestyle
  • Stage of change
  • Health behaviour
  • Nurses
  • Communication
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Health promotion

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