Self-determination theory and motivational interviewing in behavioral nutrition, physical activity, and health
This thematic series if following the ISBNPA 2009 satellite meeting in Portugal
Collection published: 2 March 2012
Series coordinator: Prof Pedro Teixeira
On the occasion of the 9th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA), a satellite meeting was organized in Sintra, Portugal entitled Self-Determination Theory and Motivational Interviewing in Behavioral Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health. The organizers were interested in stimulating a focused discussion around the similarities, differences, and complementary of self-determination theory (SDT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI). This gathering was spurred by both a recent growth in applied health behavior research based in SDT, and by a continuing interest in exploring the mechanisms by which MI produces results in practice.
There are multiple links between SDT, a well-established theory of human motivation and behavior, and MI, a popular clinical method for evoking behavior change. Both models are person-centered and process-oriented, both emphasize that optimal behavior change must involve deep personal commitment and engagement, and both stress that genuine empathy and unconditional regard towards patients or clients is a necessary condition for the long-term success of behavior change interventions. Moreover, both SDT and MI appear to have at its center the concept of motivation, endorsing the development of "internal" motives, personal meaning, and the need for patients to take responsibility for change, to the detriment of externally imposed goals and pressures.
In the fields of behavioral, preventive, and "lifestyle" medicine the interest in both MI and SDT has grown steadily over the past decades, with scholars and practitioners working in applied areas such as physical activity, eating behavior, obesity, and diabetes becoming increasingly interested in exploring self-regulation and motivational dynamics. Are we at the point where SDT should be viewed as "the theory of MI" and MI viewed as the "intervention method of SDT"? This and other related questions are collectively addressed by the 8 contributions that compose the present thematic series. The hope is that it may enrich readers' reflection on the subject of health behavior change, leading the way to interventions which are not only more effective but also ethically sounder and more widely accepted and implemented.