Using Motivational Interviewing to Promote Health in People with MS.

TitleUsing Motivational Interviewing to Promote Health in People with MS.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsCunniffe M, Blake K, Bombardier CH
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are eager to engage in activities that may improve their health. Consequently, they are good candidates for brief collaborative interventions that empower them to make healthy lifestyle changes. We are studying whether brief face-to-face and telephone-based motivational interviewing is an effective way to help people with MS make lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. Motivational interviewing is an empirically supported therapy that we have adapted for use in a randomized controlled health promotion trial. In this presentation we will review the theoretical framework of motivational interviewing and describe the six core ingredients of this therapeutic approach. We will discuss how the therapeutic principles are applied within the clinical trial to improve exercise, fatigue management, stress management, and social support and reduce substance abuse. The presentation will focus on specific strategies the counselor uses initially to build a strong therapeutic relationship, guide realistic goals setting, increase motivation to change, resolve ambivalence about change, empower the client, maximize the client’s self-efficacy, reduce barriers to change, and provide relevant resources and referrals. She will explain how to use subsequent planned telephone counseling sessions to sustain motivation, facilitate follow-through with the initial change plan and problem-solve difficulties that arise. Since the clinical trial is still enrolling subjects and the final analysis of outcomes is more than one year away, she will briefly describe the counseling process and outcomes of two representative cases. A 78-year-old female had given up golfing due to fatigue. After beginning to exercise she was able to resume golf, even to the point of playing six rounds in eight days. In the other case a busy woman with a large family learned to enlist her family’s support to help her cope with stress better through exercise and making time for herself.

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