Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Masoud Ghaffari

Committee Members

Sharon Loury, Joellen Edwards, Sebastian Kaplan


The purpose of this qualitative interpretive descriptive study was to better understand children’s perceptions of the use of motivational interviewing (MI) as a communication style for childhood obesity treatment. Childhood obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions and much research effort has been dedicated to reversing this trend. One approach that has demonstrated positive outcomes in the clinical setting is MI. Leading organizations in pediatric healthcare now recommend MI as a communication style to be used for childhood obesity-related behavior change. Although empiric studies have demonstrated improvement in outcomes when this communication style is used with patients and families, no study to date had looked at MI from the perspective of the child. Thorne’s (2008) framework for interpretive descriptive research was used for this study. Individual interviews with children ages 7 through 13 were conducted in an outpatient weight management clinic that utilizes MI as the primary communication style for facilitating behavior change. Qualitative data analysis was conducted utilizing Thorne’s recommendations for interpretive descriptive research. Five themes emerged from the data: 1) Empowerment, 2) Freedom to be Me, 3) Educating without “Educating”, 4) Unconditional Support, and 5) Blossoming. A conceptual model was developed from the research findings to help clinicians working with children in similar contexts glean a deeper understanding of the use of MI with children. Future research endeavors should focus on the implementation of this model in clinical practice to strengthen the conceptual links and determine applicability to practice.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.