Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Childhood Obesity: An Online and Mobile App!

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January 12, 2015 by Nicholas Spence

changetalk_logo Although health professionals understand the importance of addressing childhood obesity and associated risk factors with clients and families, managing these discussions and building motivation to make health promoting behaviors, in the face of resistance to change, is far from simple.

As our team gears up for our first in-person meeting and training session on MI in March 2015, I’d like to bring your attention to this timely online and mobile app called Change Talk: Childhood Obesity. An initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Kognito Research, this evidence based learning tool is a useful resource for clinicians and researchers seeking knowledge and training on MI.

For those unfamiliar with MI, it is a client-centered approach to communication, engaging clients and families in a supportive manner that facilitates internal motivation to change behavior by having them identify goals and obstacles, promoting autonomy, and empowering them to develop solutions. It is a strength based approach focused on existing assets in families that promote health and foster shared decision making and self-efficacy.

Change Talk: Childhood Obesity has an informative overview of MI and its associated techniques: shared agenda setting; affirmation; open-ended questions; reflective listening; discussing pros and cons; elicit-provide-elicit; importance and confidence; summarizing and closure.

The true value of Change Talk: Childhood Obesity is the virtual practice environment. It provides an opportunity for clinicians to use the fundamental tactics of MI in a realistic simulation with a client and caregiver to discuss childhood obesity and associated health behaviors. Feedback is provided throughout the conversation by a coach to identify missteps and reinforce MI principles.

Of course, the app will not make one an expert in one day; however, key resources in the area, including peer reviewed journal articles, are provided and can be readily emailed to the user to facilitate further professional development.

Overall, the app is easy to use and provides a fun and engaging learning experience. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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