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BMC Med Educ. 2015 Dec 21;15:228. doi: 10.1186/s12909-015-0512-1.

Teaching health science students foundation motivational interviewing skills: use of motivational interviewing treatment integrity and self-reflection to approach transformative learning.

M SA1, S L2, E R3, C LJ4.

Author information

Professor, Rural Clinical School, Flinders University, PO Box 3570, Mount Gambier, 5290, , South Australia, Australia.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Flinders University, Room 4T306 Margaret Tobin Centre, PO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia, 5001, Australia.
Senior Lecturer, Rural Clinical School, Flinders University, PO Box 889, Nuriootpa, SA, 5355, Australia.
Associate Professor, Discipline of General Practice, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia.



Many undergraduate and graduate-entry health science curricula have incorporated training in motivational interviewing (MI). However, to effectively teach skills that will remain with students after they graduate is challenging. The aims of this study were to find out self-assessed MI skills of health students and whether reflecting on the results can promote transformative learning.


Thirty-six Australian occupational therapy and physiotherapy students were taught the principles of MI, asked to conduct a motivational interview, transcribe it, self-rate it using the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) tool and reflect on the experience. Student MI skills were measured using the reported MITI subscores. Student assignments and a focus group discussion were analysed to explore the student experience using the MITI tool and self-reflection to improve their understanding of MI principles.


Students found MI challenging, although identified the MITI tool as useful for promoting self-reflection and to isolate MI skills. Students self-assessed their MI skills as competent and higher than scores expected from beginners.


The results inform educational programs on how MI skills can be developed for health professional students and can result in transformative learning. Students may over-state their MI skills and strategies to reduce this, including peer review, are discussed. Structured self-reflection, using tools such as the MITI can promote awareness of MI skills and compliment didactic teaching methods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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