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J Clin Med Res. 2012 Dec;4(6):393-401. doi: 10.4021/jocmr1120w. Epub 2012 Nov 11.

Do trained practice nurses apply motivational interviewing techniques in primary care consultations?

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NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, PO Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Reducing the prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle behaviour could positively influence health. Motivational interviewing (MI) is used to promote change in unhealthy lifestyle behaviour as part of primary or secondary prevention. Whether MI is actually applied as taught is unknown. Practice nurses' application of motivational interviewing in real-life primary care consultations was examined. Furthermore, we explored if (and to what extent) practice nurses adjust their motivational interviewing skills to primary versus secondary prevention.


Thirteen Dutch practice nurses, from four general practices, trained in motivational interviewing participated, 117 adult patients visiting the practice nurse participated, 117 practice nurse-patient consultations between June and December 2010 were videotaped. Motivational interview skills were rated by two observers using the Behaviour Change Counselling Index (BECCI). Data were analyzed using multilevel regression.


Practice nurses use motivational interviewing techniques to some extent. Substantial variation was found between motivational interviewing items. No significant differences in the use of motivational interviewing between primary and secondary prevention was found.


Motivational interviewing skills are not easily applicable in routine practice. Health care providers who want to acquire motivational interview skills should follow booster sessions after the first training. The training could be strengthened by video-feedback and feedback based on participating observation. A possible explanation for the lack of differences between the two types of prevention consultations may be the gain to help patients in primary consultations by preventing complications equals the necessity to help the disease from aggravating in secondary prevention.


Communication; Life style; Nurses; Prevention; Primary health care

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