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Review: motivational interviewing reduces substance use compared with no treatment in substance-dependent individuals

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Is motivational interviewing an effective treatment for substance abuse?


Primary outcomes were cessation or reduction of substance abuse. Secondary outcomes were retention in treatment, motivation to change, number of repeat convictions.



Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources

Searches were carried out in August to November 2010 in 18 electronic databases (Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, PsychExtra, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, C2-SPECTR, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Sociological Abstracts, ISI Web of Science, SveMed+, CINCH, NCJRS, SpringerLink, Wiley Interscience, DrugScope Library, Electronic Library of the National Documentation Centre on Drug Use, Google Scholar and Google), five websites (,,,, http://centrewatch) and four mailing lists (MINT-listserv, Australian Criminology Listserv, Campbell Crime & Justice Group Steering Committee, Crimnet). Additional studies were identified using reference lists from included studies and reviews.

Study selection and analysis

Randomised control trials that compared individual motivation interviewing (MI) or Motivation Enhancement Therapy with no treatment, treatment as usual (TAU), assessment and feedback or other active treatment in individuals dependent on, addicted to or abusing substances. Substance misuse was not included. Only studies that confirmed MI through either audio- …

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  • Sources of funding Sources of funding There were no external sources of funding supplied for this review; the internal source of support was the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services.


  • Competing interests None.