Psychology Faculty Work


Design and Methods of a Synchronous Online Motivational Interviewing Intervention for Weight Management

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JMIR Research Protocols

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Background: While Internet-based weight management programs can facilitate access to and engagement in evidence-based lifestyle weight loss programs, the results have generally not been as effective as in-person programs. Furthermore, motivational interviewing (MI) has shown promise as a technique for enhancing weight loss outcomes within face-to-face programs.

Objective: This paper describes the design, intervention development, and analysis of a therapist-delivered online MI intervention for weight loss in the context of an online weight loss program.

Methods: The MI intervention is delivered within the context of a randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of an 18-month, group-based, online behavioral weight control program plus individually administered, synchronous online MI sessions relative to the group-based program alone. Six individual 30-minute MI sessions are conducted in private chat rooms over 18 months by doctoral-level psychologists. Sessions use a semistructured interview format for content and session flow and incorporate core MI components (eg, collaborative agenda setting, open-ended questions, reflective listening and summary statements, objective data, and a focus on evoking and amplifying change talk).

Results: The project was funded in 2010 and enrollment was completed in 2012. Data analysis is currently under way and the first results are expected in 2016.

Conclusions: This is the first trial to test the efficacy of a synchronous online, one-on-one MI intervention designed to augment an online group behavioral weight loss program. If the addition of MI sessions proves to be successful, this intervention could be disseminated to enhance other distance-based weight loss interventions.



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