Motivational interviewing for substance use reduction

Motivational interviewing for substance use reduction

Schwenker, R. Dietrich, C. E. Hirpa, S. Nothacker, M. Smedslund, G. Frese, T. Unverzagt, S.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev
Background Substance use is a global issue, with around 30 to 35 million individuals estimated to have a substance‐use disorder. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client‐centred method that aims to strengthen a person's motivation and commitment to a specific goal by exploring their reasons for change and resolving ambivalence, in an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion. This review updates the 2011 version by Smedslund and colleagues. Objectives To assess the effectiveness of motivational interviewing for substance use on the extent of substance use, readiness to change, and retention in treatment. Search methods We searched 18 electronic databases, six websites, four mailing lists, and the reference lists of included studies and reviews. The last search dates were in February 2021 and November 2022. Selection criteria We included randomised controlled trials with individuals using drugs, alcohol, or both. Interventions were MI or motivational enhancement therapy (MET), delivered individually and face to face. Eligible control interventions were no intervention, treatment as usual, assessment and feedback, or other active intervention. Data collection and analysis We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane, and assessed the certainty of evidence with GRADE. We conducted meta‐analyses for the three outcomes (extent of substance use, readiness to change, retention in treatment) at four time points (post‐intervention, short‐, medium‐, and long‐term follow‐up). Main results We included 93 studies with 22,776 participants. MI was delivered in one to nine sessions. Session durations varied, from as little as 10 minutes to as long as 148 minutes per session, across included studies. Study settings included inpatient and outpatient clinics, universities, army recruitment centres, veterans' health centres, and prisons. We judged 69 studies to be at high risk of bias in at least one domain and 24 studies to be at low or unclear risk. Comparing MI to no intervention revealed a small to moderate effect of MI in substance use post‐intervention (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07 to 0.89; I2 = 75%; 6 studies, 471 participants; low‐certainty evidence). The effect was weaker at short‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.20, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.28; 19 studies, 3351 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). This comparison revealed a difference in favour of MI at medium‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.12, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.20; 16 studies, 3137 participants; low‐certainty evidence) and no difference at long‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.12, 95% CI ‐0.00 to 0.25; 9 studies, 1525 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). There was no difference in readiness to change (SMD 0.05, 95% CI ‐0.11 to 0.22; 5 studies, 1495 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). Retention in treatment was slightly higher with MI (SMD 0.26, 95% CI ‐0.00 to 0.52; 2 studies, 427 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). Comparing MI to treatment as usual revealed a very small negative effect in substance use post‐intervention (SMD ‐0.14, 95% CI ‐0.27 to ‐0.02; 5 studies, 976 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). There was no difference at short‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.07, 95% CI ‐0.03 to 0.17; 14 studies, 3066 participants), a very small benefit of MI at medium‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.12, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.22; 9 studies, 1624 participants), and no difference at long‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.06, 95% CI ‐0.05 to 0.17; 8 studies, 1449 participants), all with low‐certainty evidence. There was no difference in readiness to change (SMD 0.06, 95% CI ‐0.27 to 0.39; 2 studies, 150 participants) and retention in treatment (SMD ‐0.09, 95% CI ‐0.34 to 0.16; 5 studies, 1295 participants), both with very low‐certainty evidence. Comparing MI to assessment and feedback revealed no difference in substance use at short‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.09, 95% CI ‐0.05 to 0.23; 7 studies, 854 participants; low‐certainty evidence). A small benefit for MI was shown at medium‐term (SMD 0.24, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.40; 6 studies, 688 participants) and long‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.24, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.41; 3 studies, 448 participants), both with moderate‐certainty evidence. None of the studies in this comparison measured substance use at the post‐intervention time point, readiness to change, and retention in treatment. Comparing MI to another active intervention revealed no difference in substance use at any follow‐up time point, all with low‐certainty evidence: post‐intervention (SMD 0.07, 95% CI ‐0.15 to 0.29; 3 studies, 338 participants); short‐term (SMD 0.05, 95% CI ‐0.03 to 0.13; 18 studies, 2795 participants); medium‐term (SMD 0.08, 95% CI ‐0.01 to 0.17; 15 studies, 2352 participants); and long‐term follow‐up (SMD 0.03, 95% CI ‐0.07 to 0.13; 10 studies, 1908 participants). There was no difference in readiness to change (SMD 0.15, 95% CI ‐0.00 to 0.30; 5 studies, 988 participants; low‐certainty evidence) and retention in treatment (SMD ‐0.04, 95% CI ‐0.23 to 0.14; 12 studies, 1945 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence). We downgraded the certainty of evidence due to inconsistency, study limitations, publication bias, and imprecision. Authors' conclusions Motivational interviewing may reduce substance use compared with no intervention up to a short follow‐up period. MI probably reduces substance use slightly compared with assessment and feedback over medium‐ and long‐term periods. MI may make little to no difference to substance use compared to treatment as usual and another active intervention. It is unclear if MI has an effect on readiness to change and retention in treatment. The studies included in this review were heterogeneous in many respects, including the characteristics of participants, substance(s) used, and interventions. Given the widespread use of MI and the many studies examining MI, it is very important that counsellors adhere to and report quality conditions so that only studies in which the intervention implemented was actually MI are included in evidence syntheses and systematic reviews. Overall, we have moderate to no confidence in the evidence, which forces us to be careful about our conclusions. Consequently, future studies are likely to change the findings and conclusions of this review.

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