Motivational interviewing by HIV care providers is associated with patient intentions to reduce unsafe sexual behavior

Tabor E. Flickinger, Gary Rose, Ira B. Wilson, Hannah Wolfe, Somnath Saha, Philip Todd Korthuis, Michele Massa, Stephen Berry, Michael Barton Laws, Victoria Sharp, Richard D. Moore, Mary Catherine Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: Motivational interviewing (MI) can promote behavior change, but HIV care providers rarely have training in MI. Little is known about the use of MI-consistent behavior among untrained providers. This study examines the prevalence of such behaviors and their association with patient intentions to reduce high-risk sexual behavior. Methods: Audio-recorded visits between HIV-infected patients and their healthcare providers were searched for counseling dialog regarding sexual behavior. The association of providers' MI-consistence with patients' statements about behavior change was assessed. Results: Of 417 total encounters, 27 met inclusion criteria. The odds of patient commitment to change were higher when providers used more reflections ( p= 0.017), used more MI consistent utterances ( p= 0.044), demonstrated more empathy ( p= 0.049), and spent more time discussing sexual behavior ( p= 0.023). Patients gave more statements in favor of change (change talk) when providers used more reflections ( p < 0.001) and more empathy ( p < 0.001), even after adjusting for length of relevant dialog. Conclusion: Untrained HIV providers do not consistently use MI techniques when counseling patients about sexual risk reduction. However, when they do, their patients are more likely to express intentions to reduce sexual risk behavior. Practice implications: MI holds promise as one strategy to reduce transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Counseling
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Physicians
  • Sexual risk reduction


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