Mechanisms of change in self-care in adults with heart failure receiving a tailored, motivational interviewing intervention

Barbara Riegel, Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Lydia Elena Garcia, Ruth Masterson Creber, Megan Streur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-care is challenging but we previously demonstrated that motivational interviewing (MI) was effective in improving heart failure (HF) self-care. Objective To identify the mechanisms of intervention effectiveness by elucidating the MI techniques used and the relationship between the techniques and changes in self-care. Methods Audiotaped sessions (first and subsequent sessions) from 8 participants were transcribed verbatim and coded to evaluate changes in self-care. Using a sequential mixed method design, quantitative and qualitative self-care data were triangulated; congruence was 97%. The MI techniques used and mechanisms of intervention effectiveness were identified from the qualitative data. Results Three MI techniques used were related to improved self-care: 1) reflection and reframing, 2) genuine empathy, affirmation, and humor, and 2) individualized problem solving. These techniques stimulated openness to goal setting, positive self-talk, perceived ability to overcome barriers, and change talk. The mechanisms by which the techniques achieved the desired outcomes were the development of discrepancy and self-efficacy, which are consistent with the principles of MI. Conclusion This study contributes to clarifying the mechanism by which MI facilitates behavioral change. Practice implications Using MI to discuss self-care can help to overcome barriers and engage HF patients in goal setting for behavior change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-288
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Behavioral change
  • Counseling
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Patient compliance
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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