How Motivational Interviewing Can Inspire Patients to Improve Cardiac Health

Motivational interviewing, a clinical approach to communication that leverages open dialogue, empathy and self-motivation, has been shown to have positive health outcomes for patients with chronic conditions.

A 2013 study published in the journal Patient Education & Counseling showed that motivational interviewing was 55 percent more effective in improving quality of life for patients than alternate methods of patient interaction. By eliciting confidence and intention to change, motivational interviewing has also been shown to increase patients’ engagement in treatment.

“Motivational interviewing helps a patient feel that their doctor or care team is on their side, rather than experiencing someone in an authority position looking down at them, shaking their finger and telling them what they need to do,” said Christopher Wells, a practice facilitator at HealthInsight, the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. “Using this technique, the patient feels engaged and empowered to change the problem behavior.”

HealthInsight recently hosted a webinar entitled “Motivational Interviewing to Improve Cardiac Health: Practical Applications,” which aimed to provide resources for clinicians interested in implementing motivational interviewing techniques in their practices.

Wells highlighted one example of how the technique has worked. A patient in Oregon with a diagnosis of heart disease and diabetes was struggling to adhere to lifestyle and medication recommendations prescribed by his clinician. Using motivational interviewing techniques, the clinician identified that the patient’s number one priority was to be healthy enough to attend his granddaughter’s graduation.

Collaboration with his provider helped the patient make remarkable changes to his daily activities. At subsequent visits with his provider, he described his motivation to stick with the medical recommendations because he understood that his actions directly affected his own priorities and goals. Due in large part to the engaging motivational interviewing techniques employed by his clinician, the patient remained healthy and was able to attend his granddaughter’s graduation ceremony two years later.

This story originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of QIO News.