Trajectories of In-Session Change Language in Brief Motivational Interventions With Mandated College Students

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Objective: Brief motivational interventions (BMIs) are currently the most efficacious individual intervention for mandated college students. However, little is known about how BMIs facilitate client language in relation to subsequent changes in alcohol use and problems in mandated student samples. Method: The current study used the Motivational Interviewing Skills Code (MISC 2.0; Miller, Moyers, Ernst, & Amrhein, 2003) to code BMI sessions (N = 252) from 2 randomized clinical trials that led to significant reductions in alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in mandated student drinkers. A proportion of change language was calculated for each decile (1st to 10th) of the BMI sessions. Results: Latent class analyses of in-session speech indicated that there were 3 distinct trajectories of change language over the course of the session: high (n = 59), increasing (n = 122), and low (n = 71). Members of the high trajectory group showed higher rates of alcohol-related problems prior to the BMI and members of the low trajectory group were more likely to be male. Six months following the BMI, members of the high and low trajectory groups demonstrated significant reductions in alcohol use and problems, and members of the increasing trajectory group only reduced alcohol-related problems. Conclusions: Associations among the 3 trajectories of client change language and subsequent reductions in alcohol use and problems partially supported the technical hypothesis of MI efficacy. Client factors as well as the nature of the discussion of personalized feedback may determine the link between in-session client language and subsequent behavior change.

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