Motivational Interviewing for Older Adults

  • Kenneth Brummel-SmithEmail author

Key Points

  • Motivational interviewing is a technique used to explore ambivalence about a behavior, such as physical activity.

  • Motivational interviewing uses open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summarizations to help an older person self-analyze their behavior.

  • Motivational interviewing leads to modest improvements in physical activity in people with chronic health conditions.

  • There may be benefits to incorporating motivational interviewing into clinical practice.

  • The effects of motivational interviewing may be greater if the clinician adheres to the core components of motivational interviewing.


Affirmations Ambivalence Behavior change Change talk Confidence Directing Following Guiding Importance Interviewing Motivational Reflections Status quo 

Supplementary material

Video 5.1.

Exploring Ambivalence. This video demonstrates how to explore ambivalence about physical activity with an older adult who has diabetes

Video 5.2.

Making a Plan and the Confidence Ruler. Demonstrates the skill of guiding while looking for DARN themes in “change talk” and use of the Confidence Ruler

Video 5.3.

The Importance Ruler. Illustrates the use of OARS techniques and the Importance Ruler

Video 5.4.

Follow-Up Visit. Shows how OARS techniques can help at different stages in the older adult’s progress with adopting physical activity

Video 5.5.

Rolling with Resistance. Demonstrates how to use strategies such as asking permission to inform and help guide the older adult in decision-makingVideo

Video 5.6.

Relapse and Making a New Plan. Shows how to use OARS skills to support an older adult when relapse occurs and making a new plan is needed

Video 5.7.

Maintenance. Illustrates the use of OARS skills as part of active maintenance of physical activity


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  1. Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers: excellence in motivational interviewing [Internet]. c2013. Available from:—a website with references, videos, and links to training opportunities. Experienced motivational interviewers can be seen discussing the spirit of motivational interviewing and the way it works can be seen in the video on this page. (cited 2014 December 21)
  2. Another useful link on this website is “Motivational Interviewing Resources” (
  3. Rollnick S, Miller WR, Butler CC. Motivational interviewing in health care: helping patients change behavior. New York: Guilford Press; 2008. An excellent resource for understanding the basics of motivational interviewing in a health care setting written by the founders of motivational interviewing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeriatricsFlorida State University College of MedicineTallahasseeUSA

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