University peer health coaches’ perceptions of learning and applying motivational interviewing

Janaina Lima Fogaca, Saemi Lee, Courtney Joseph, Dawn E. Clifford, Natalie Papini, Jonathan S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Peer-led health coaching is a realistic and sustainable way to support health behaviour change on university campuses. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an effective framework to guide behaviour change conversations in peer health coaching sessions. However, research on the perceptions of peer coaches who provide health coaching using MI is scarce. Objective: The aims of this study were to examine (1) university peer health coaches’ experiences as peer educators after participating in the training and implementation of MI; and (2) university peer health coaches’ supervision experiences as they learn to use MI for health coaching. Design: Cross-sectional in-depth qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Setting: Peer health coaching programme in a mid-sized southwestern US university. Method: Five peer health coaches were interviewed about their training, implementation and supervision of using MI in a university health coaching programme. IPA was used to analyse the findings. Results: We identified four main themes: (1) learning MI, (2) using MI, (3) challenges of time and availability and (4) supervision and peer support. Results illustrated the developmental processes peer health coaches perceive as they develop their MI skills. Individual and group supervision supported MI growth and development while also building a sense of community. Conclusion: Apart from challenges in learning and using MI, supervision was an important factor that helped peer health coaches develop. Future research should investigate training methods and supervision strategies to improve the quality of peer health coach programmes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Education
  • health coaching
  • motivational interviewing
  • peer coaches
  • supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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