Motivational Interviewing to Address Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Veterans

Peter C. Britton, Kenneth R. Conner, Benjamin P. Chapman, Stephen A. Maisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Although the months following discharge from psychiatric hospitalization are a period of acute risk for veterans, there is a dearth of empirically supported treatments tailored to veterans in acute psychiatric hospitalization. Method: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing to Address Suicidal Ideation (MI-SI) that explored and resolved ambivalence, and a revised MI-SI (MI-SI-R) that resolved ambivalence, on suicidal ideation (SI) in hospitalized veterans who scored > 2 on the Scale for Suicidal Ideation. Participants were randomized to receive MI-SI plus treatment as usual (TAU), MI-SI-R+TAU, or TAU alone. MI-SI+TAU and MI-SI-R+TAU included two in-hospital therapy sessions and one telephone booster session. Participants completed follow-up assessments over 6 months. Results: Participants in all groups experienced reductions in the presence and severity of SI, but there were no significant differences among the groups. For the presence of SI, results were in the hypothesized direction for both MI-SI+TAU conditions. Conclusions: Results are nondefinitive, but the effect size of both versions of MI-SI+TAU on the presence of SI was consistent with prior MI findings. Exploratory analyses suggest MI-SI-R may be preferable to MI-SI. More intensive MI-SI-R with a greater number of follow-ups may increase its effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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