The Use of Motivational Interviewing in Physical Therapy Education and Practice: Empowering Patients Through Effective Self-Management

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Background and Purpose.

As specialists in movement science, physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can offer skill and expertise to address inadequate physical activity and other behavioral risk factors for obesity, metabolic disease, cardiovascular illness, respiratory conditions, osteoporosis, low back pain, and other cardiopulmonary, vascular, integumentary, neuromuscular, and musculoskeletal impairments. The purpose of this position paper is to provide an overview of potential barriers and facilitators to including motivational interviewing (MI) as a component of patient education in physical therapy, and to impart a basic framework for incorporating brief MI techniques into physical therapy education and practice.

Position and Rationale.

Patient education is a central component of physical therapy practice. Frequent, extended communication with patients enables practitioners to develop rapport and insight into contextual factors associated with health-related behaviors. These characteristics place PTs and PTAs in an optimal position to enhance health-related outcomes by encouraging patients to play an active role in effective self-management. MI is an evidence-based, collaborative approach to patient education that incorporates goal setting, treatment planning, self-monitoring, and reassessment. MI techniques assist patients in recognizing discrepancies between their current behavior and personal values, and provide support for self-efficacy by reinforcing an individual's belief that he or she is capable of initiating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Discussion and Conclusion.

By providing resources and templates for use in physical therapy education, this article strives to inspire further discussion and consideration of factors involved in MI, thereby encouraging physical therapy practitioners and educators to utilize MI techniques to encourage patients to play an active role in enhancing their own health and wellness.

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