Motivational interviewing with and without normative feedback for adolescents with substance use problems: A preliminary study

Douglas C. Smith, Daniel J. Ureche, Jordan P. Davis, Scott T. Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many adolescents in need of substance use disorder treatments never engage in treatment. Further, the most promising interventions that could be adapted to target treatment engagement often use normative feedback (NF) despite concerns about its appropriateness for adolescents. This preliminary study will inform a larger trial designed to isolate whether NF is an inert, helpful, or harmful active ingredient within pretreatment motivational interviewing (MI) interventions designed to increase treatment engagement. Methods: Adolescents (N = 48) presenting for treatment intake assessments were randomized to receive MI (n = 22) or MI+NF (n = 26) immediately following their assessments. Three-month outcomes included the percentage of youth engaged in treatment, the percentage of youth reporting past-month binge drinking, and the percentage of days of abstinence. Results: Treatments were delivered with high fidelity, and a high proportion of eligible participants were recruited and retained in this study. Participants significantly increased their percentage of days of abstinence by approximately 10% at follow-up (d =.32, P =.03), with no significant differences between groups. Fifty-five percent of youth in MI and 41.7% of youth in MI+NF engaged in treatment (odds ratio [OR] =.60, nonsignificant; 95% confidence interval, CI [0.136-2.68]). Conclusions: Larger trials should test whether NF is an active ingredient in adolescent MI interventions, and should also determine the mechanisms through which MI+NF may produce effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • Adolescents
  • clinical trial
  • motivational interviewing
  • normative feedback
  • substance abuse treatment centers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Motivational interviewing with and without normative feedback for adolescents with substance use problems: A preliminary study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this