Document Type




Publication Date



Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

Source Publication

Journal of Physician Assistant Education

Source ISSN



Purpose Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based technique that enables clinicians to help patients modify health behaviors. Although MI is an essential tool for physician assistants (PAs), the extent to which it is addressed in PA curricula in the United States is unknown. This study is a comprehensive description of MI education in PA programs in the United States.

Methods Data are from the 2014 Physician Assistant Education Association Annual Program Survey. Descriptive statistics were conducted on de-identified data from all 186 PA programs in the United States.

Results Of the 186 PA programs surveyed, 72.58% (n = 135) reported at least one course providing MI training. Availability of courses providing training in skills essential to the MI process varied. Having a course with verbal communication training was most frequently endorsed, and having a course with training in developing discrepancy was least frequently endorsed. The most popular teaching modality was lecture (84.95%, n = 158), whereas only 41.40% (n = 77) and 58.60% (n = 109) reported role play with evaluation and standardized patient exercises with evaluation, respectively.

Conclusions More than 70% of programs included at least one course in their curriculum that provided training in MI, suggesting that PA programs recognize the importance of MI. Instruction in change talk was not provided in nearly half of the programs. Role-play and standardized patient exercises with evaluation were underused methods despite their proven efficacy in MI education. As the first comprehensive benchmark of MI education for PAs, this study shows that although most programs address MI, opportunities exist to improve MI training in PA programs in the United States.


Accepted version. Journal of Physician Assistant Education, Vol. 28, No. 3 (September 2017): 132-137. DOI. ª 2017 Physician Assistant Education Association. Used with permission.

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