Motivational interviewing as a tool for behavior change: Implications for public health dentistry

Avinash Bhat, Gururaghavendran Rajesh, Vikrant R. Mohanty, Ramya Shenoy, Mithun Pai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aim: The purpose of this review was to comprehensively explore various aspects of motivational interviewing, its principles, goals, steps, and relevance to tobacco cessation. Background: Tobacco use is one of the major public health issues all over the world due to the mortality and morbidity associated with it. Counseling is an important tool in helping the patients quit tobacco. Traditional counseling assumes that the counselor is an expert and the patient is a passive recipient. Person/client-centered approach marks a paradigm shift in these processes. It identifies that client as an expert about his/her problems and the counselor is a facilitator. Motivational interviewing (MI) employs counseling skills, such as, asking open-ended questions, affirmation, reflecting and summarizing, known by the acronym OARS. The strategic goals of MI are to increase self-esteem, self-efficacy, and dissonance. Review results: Literature search was performed with the aid of Endnote software, which was followed by systematically arranging the retrieved articles in a harmonized manner. Conclusion: The number of studies employing MI in the field of public health dentistry was found to be sparse, with a majority of them focusing on tobacco cessation. Motivational interviewing appears to be a promising tool in bringing about the change in behavior of clients. By placing the onus on the client himself/herself in bringing about behavior change, MI transforms the role of the counselor from an expert to a facilitator. Motivational interviewing can be used to bring about long-term and sustained changes in lifestyle of individuals, thereby contributing to the better health of populations. Clinical significance: Motivational interviewing can be implemented among patients who are aware of their condition and want to change, but are ambivalent. As a public health dentist, MI can be effectively used in tobacco cessation, alcohol abuse, lifestyle modification, dental anxiety, proper brushing technique, and healthy choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Dentistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01-05-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Dentistry


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