This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Motivational Interviewing for Weight Management among College Students




Suire, Kameron

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




BACKGROUND: Approximately 37% of college students are overweight or obese and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated weight management in college students. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a motivational interviewing intervention compared to electronic education (control) on body composition and self-determination theory (SDT) constructs among overweight college students. METHODS: 40 college students were randomized into the MI (18) or control group (22). The MI group received three face-to-face interviews before the pandemic and three video chat interviews after the outbreak of COVID-19 over six months. The control received six electronic education modules. Body composition was measured by the iDexa and SDT variables were assessed with surveys. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was utilized to detail experiences throughout the study. RESULTS: Mixed ANOVAs from pre-post revealed significant interactions in fat mass (p = .029) and lean mass (p = .047). The control group had a larger increase in fat mass compared to the MI group while also losing lean mass, whereas the MI group had an increase in lean mass. There were also significant interactions regarding autonomy (p = .002), relatedness (p = .001), amotivation (p = .010), external regulation (p = .023), identified regulation (p = .017), integrated regulation (p = .001), and intrinsic regulation (p = .014). The MI group had increases in autonomy, relatedness, identified, integrated, and intrinsic regulation while the control group had decreases in these respective constructs. The MI group also had decreases in amotivation and external regulation while the control group had increases in scores. Four themes emerged from both groups relating to the struggles of COVID-19’s impact: loss of gym access, mental struggles, boredom/stress eating, and loss of structure/living conditions. Four themes were also identified related to the intervention received: MI was found more remarkable compared to electronic education, MI was particularly useful during the shutdown, subjects receiving MI enjoyed the autonomy focus, and subjects receiving MI felt comfortable to share information and trusted the MI interventionists. CONCLUSIONS: MI demonstrated strong potential in body composition maintenance when compared to electronic education among overweight college students during a national pandemic. Based on the results of this study, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted college students in their weight management journey. Participants in the MI group felt more successful, which may be in part due to the trustful communication and focus on autonomy of MI.