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27-06-2011 | Stroke | Article

Motivational interviewing improves outlook, recovery after stroke


Free abstract

MedWire News: Just four sessions of motivational interviewing improves mood and is associated with reduced mortality among patients recovering from a stroke, report UK researchers.

"We found that early intervention helped people set realistic expectations for recovery, avoid some of the misery associated with life after stroke, and may even help them live longer," said lead researcher Caroline Watkins (University of Central Lancashire, Preston).

For the study, 411 stroke patients, aged a median of 70 years and without major cognitive impairment, were randomly assigned to undergo four, weekly motivational interviewing sessions lasting 30-60 minutes or to receive usual care.

The sessions were delivered by four therapists who had been trained in the technique by a clinical psychologist. During the sessions, they discussed patients' adjustment to stroke, and helped them to set realistic goals for recovery and to find their own solutions to overcoming perceived barriers to recovery.

At 12 months after stroke, all surviving patients completed the 28-item General Health Questionnaire. This revealed that 48.0% of patients in the motivational interviewing group had normal mood (score <5), compared with 37.7% of those in the control group. This equated to a significant 66% increased likelihood of patients having normal mood if they had undergone motivational interviewing.

Furthermore, they were 2.14-fold more likely to be alive at 12 months, the team reports in the journal Stroke. Just 7.3% of the motivational interviewing group had died by this point, compared with 13.8% of the control group.

Watkins cautioned that they did not ascertain the cause of death for all patients, adding that the association between mood and mortality should be examined in larger studies.

"The simplicity and brevity of this intervention makes it inexpensive to deliver, and yet it has the potential to give huge benefits to its recipients," concluded Watkins. "It's imperative that further research is supported to ensure effective methods of implementation are developed."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Eleanor McDermid