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  • Effect of motivational interviewing on alcohol, tobacco, physical activity and nutrition

Mapping review

Effect of motivational interviewing on alcohol, tobacco, physical activity and nutrition

Published Updated

About this publication

  • Year: 2015
  • By: Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services
  • Authors Kurtze N, Berg RC.
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8121-941-0

Key message

High alcohol consumption, smoking, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet increase the risk of poor health. In this paper, we considered the effect of motivational interviewing on behavior change with regard to these four risk factors. Motivational interviewing is a type of counseling intends to enhance a person's motivation and commitment to behavior change.

This paper is based on structured summaries of six systematic reviews about the use of motivational interviewing. Three of the systematic reviews concern alcohol-/drug abuse and smoking, one addresses physical activity and two concern diet and physical activity. We found that:


  • Motivational interviewing for substance abuse may reduce substance abuse in the immediately post intervention period. However, 1-12 months post intervention, there may be limited or no effect of MI on substance abuse.
  • Motivational interviewing probably has little or very little effect on the amount of alcohol, and the frequency of alcohol consumption, among young people.
  • Motivational interviewing may help smokers quit smoking.
  • Motivational interviewing, in addition to conventional treatment and follow-up, may lead to increased physical activity among people with long-term health problems. However, motivational interviewing probably does not improve functional exercise capacity among this population.
  • There is insufficient evidence to determine whether motivational interviewing promotes changes in diet or physical activity in adults.
  • Motivational interviewing appears to promote weight loss in overweight and obese patients, but it probably does not affect body mass index.