The Center for Social Innovation (C4SI) proposes to develop and pilot test the Motivational Interviewing Simulator: An Experiential Online Training Tool. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a well-established evidence- based practice that has been implemented across a wide range of disciplines including mental health and substance abuse treatment, primary care, HIV/AIDS services, homeless programs, and other health and social services. While standard 2-day face-to-face trainings have been shown effective in initial uptake of MI knowledge and skills, researchers have consistently documented a significant decrease in knowledge and skills in the weeks and months following onsite training. A need exists to develop a web-based training tool that can reinforce MI learning, and that will be accessible to a large number of providers. The proposed MI Simulator is designed to meet this need. The study has three specific aims: 1. To design a prototype Motivational Interviewing Simulator that supports health and social service providers to acquire, practice, and evaluate MI skills. 2. To conduct a pilot study to determine feasibility of a large Phase II study on the Simulator's effectiveness. 3. To explore commercial application of the Simulator. The Simulator will allow users to play the role of client, clinician, clinical supervisor, or team member. Multiple scenarios will allow users to work through various encounters across service settings (e.g., community mental health, inpatient detoxification, homeless outreach, diabetes care, HIV/AIDS treatment). The prototype will be created using an established process developed by Forio, a simulation development company that will consult on the project. Forio's process has guided simulated learning products developed by the Centers for Disease Control, Harvard University, and numerous Fortune 500 companies. C4SI will conduct a Phase I pilot study to determine the feasibility of conducting a larger relative effectiveness trial. The pilot will include a sample of 30 participants who will be recruited from participants in our regularly scheduled 2-day face-to-face MI trainings, then randomized into one of two conditions: 1) On-Site Training with MI Simulator (n=15);or 2) Onsite Training with Enhanced Online Support (self-paced """"""""E-Book"""""""") (n=15). Data sources will include Pre/Post Training Surveys and coded audio tapes of participants-client encounters. We will closely track challenges associated with each aspect of such a design, including recruitment and randomization, data collection instruments and processes, and implementation of the MI Simulator and E-Book products. Data collected during this study will enable us to fine-tune study design, product usability, and hypotheses to be tested in a Phase II study. Finally, we will conduct a Phase I market analysis and develop preliminary marketing and pricing strategies.

Public Health Relevance

The Motivational Interviewing Simulator: An Experiential Online Training Tool represents the first major effort matching simulation technology with the evidence-based practice of motivational interviewing (MI). The Simulator will support retention of MI knowledge and skills to ensure fidelity to the model-and ultimately will improve quality of care for vulnerable populations by improving the clinical skills of service providers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HDM-K (10))
Program Officer
Haim, Adam
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Center for Social Innovation, LLC
United States
Zip Code