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Supporting behaviour change

Supporting behaviour change

For all health care staff, every interaction with a patient or client is an opportunity to promote health and prevent illness (RCN 2012).

The NHS Future Forum report (2012) states that “Every healthcare professional should use every contact with an individual to help them maintain or improve their mental and physical health and well-being; in particular targeting the four main lifestyle risk factors; diet, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco – whatever their speciality or the purpose of the contact”. This is the basis of the Making Every Contact Count initiative in England.


Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an empathetic and supportive counselling style that encourages and strengthens a client's motivation for change. For more information around MI and its co-founder, see Stephen Rollnick.

Research shows that motivational interviewing techniques lead to greater participation in treatment and more positive treatment outcomes. This makes motivational interviewing an excellent tool for using with MECC.

This module will give you an overview of motivational interviewing and will provide you with a 'change toolkit' to use when discussing change with your clients. It will also sign-post you to other resources should you wish to know more about MI and MECC.

Who is this learning for?

This learning area is relevant to all registered nurses, student nurses, health care assistants (HCAs) and assistant practitioners working in any health care setting or specialism. The aim is to give you an overview of motivational interviewing and provide you with a tool-kit of techniques that you can start to use immediately.

Learning outcomes

After completing all the sections and activities in this resource, the learner should be able to:

  • be aware of motivational interviewing and why it is effective
  • know how to initiate a conversation with their client around health care and lifestyle issues
  • understand why it is important to gauge a client's attitude to change
  • signpost their clients to more information or support
  • understand why they feel frustrated when client's do not change
  • recognise the limits of what they can achieve with their clients.