Motivational interviewing and cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety following traumatic brain injury: A pilot randomised controlled trial Academic Article uri icon


  • Although cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for anxiety, its delivery needs to be adapted for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). It also requires clients' active engagement for maximum benefit. This study was a pilot randomised controlled trial involving an anxiety treatment programme adapted for people with TBI, based on CBT and motivational interviewing (MI). Twenty-seven participants with moderate/severe TBI (aged 21-73 years, 78% males) recruited from a brain injury rehabilitation hospital were randomly allocated to receive MI + CBT (n = 9), non-directive counselling (NDC) + CBT (n = 10) and treatment-as-usual (TAU) (n = 8). CBT and MI were manualised and delivered in 12 weekly individual sessions. Primary outcome was self-reported anxiety symptoms assessed at baseline, at the end of NDC/MI and immediately following CBT. Assessment was conducted by assessors blinded to group assignment. Intention-to-treat analyses showed that the two active treatment groups demonstrated significantly greater anxiety reduction than TAU. Participants receiving MI showed greater response to CBT, in terms of reduction in anxiety, stress and non-productive coping, compared to participants who received NDC. The results provided preliminary support for the adapted CBT programme, and the potential utility of MI as treatment prelude. Longer follow-up data are required to evaluate the maintenance of treatment effects.


  • Hsieh, Ming-Yun
  • Ponsford, Jennie
  • Wong, Dana
  • Schönberger, Michael
  • Taffe, John
  • Mckay, Adam

publication date

  • 2012