Motivational Interviewing and Caregiver Engagement in the Family Check-Up 4 Health

Cady Berkel, Anne Mauricio, Jenna Rudo-Stern, Thomas Dishion, Justin D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic style in which a provider elicits client motivation and helps strengthen commitment to change (Miller and Rollnick 2002). The original Family Check-Up (FCU; Dishion and Stormshak 2007)—and the adapted version for improving health behaviors in primary care, the Family Check-Up 4 Health (FCU4Health; Smith et al. 2018a)—are brief, assessment-driven, and family-centered preventive interventions that use MI to improve parent engagement in services to improve parenting and prevent negative child outcomes. This study examines the role of MI in the Raising Healthy Children project, a randomized trial to test the effectiveness of the FCU4Health for the prevention of obesity in pediatric primary care, with data from the 141 families assigned to receive the FCU4Health. Families were eligible for the study if the child was between 5.5 and 12 years of age at the time of identification and had a BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age and gender at the most recent visit to their primary care provider. MI skills at the first session predicted caregiver in-session active engagement, attendance at follow-up parenting sessions, and improvements in motivation to address child health and behavior goals. Baseline characteristics of the family (i.e., child health diagnosis, caregiver baseline depression, motivation, and Spanish language preference) had differential associations with responsiveness and MI skills. This study has implications for program development, provider training, and fidelity monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-746
Number of pages10
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Culture
  • Family Check-Up 4 Health
  • Implementation science
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Participant responsiveness
  • Pediatric obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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