Buddy-motivational interviewing (buddy-MI) to Increase Physical Activity in Community Settings: Results of a Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial

David Brinson, Mark Wallace-Bell, Ray Kirk, Andrew Hornblow


This article describes the implementation and evaluation of a novel buddy-Motivational Interviewing intervention intended to help apparently healthy but relatively sedentary adults to adopt and maintain regular physical activity for health and fitness. This intervention is an adaptation of Motivational Interviewing which adds client-selected motivational-buddies who can provide in-session input as well as ongoing out-of-session support focused on strengthening client’s motivation for and movement toward their physical activity goals. A pragmatic parallel-group randomised controlled trial with 12-month follow-up was implemented to test the intervention. The trial demonstrated that buddy-MI was feasible and could be delivered with equivalent fidelity to standard MI and both groups demonstrated statistically significant changes across a range of behavioural and health-status outcomes. Moreover, the experimental group participants generally ‘outperformed’ the control group participants as shown by the consistent trends observed over three repeated measures out to 12-months (although these between-group differences were statistically non-significant). Qualitative data indicated participant acceptance of the programme as well as providing initial evidence of positive collateral health effects (‘ripple effects’ whereby buddies changed their behaviours also). Consideration for further development, evaluation and applications are also discussed.


motivational interviewing; social support; buddy; physical activity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/mitrip.2014.49


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