Motivational Interviewing (MI) is intended to change the nature of interactions between caseworkers and their clients. It recognizes the ambivalence clients may have towards adopting employment seeking behaviours and attempts to alter clients’ motivations such that they are more inclined to follow through on their employment plans. Typically in implementing such plans, income-assistance clients interact with different caseworkers: at their income assistance office and at employment service centres.
To test MI within regular service delivery for Income Assistance (IA) clients, therefore, the project sought to integrate MI into client interactions in both settings. This proved complicated to achieve, but the project’s efforts to integrate MI in both settings for client interactions ensured that the project findings would apply to implementation in real-world settings. The project adopted a randomized experimental design to ensure that a valid counterfactual would be measured: the outcomes of clients receiving MI could be compared to client outcomes when MI was not being used, thus providing a high level of certainty that the treatment rather than pre-existing differences among these two groups accounted for later observed differences in outcomes.
A sample of 155 long-term IA recipients was allocated at random either to (a) a MI-stream group whose caseworkers (Employment and Assistance Workers at income assistance offices with responsibility for clients’ Employment Plans – dubbed EP-EAWs – and case managers in employment services centres) would be trained in using MI or to (b) a non-MI stream control group whose caseworkers would not be trained in using MI. In all other respects, the two groups were on average, statistically identical, although case managers themselves could not be randomly assigned to clients. This last feature leaves open the possibility that case manager differences and not the use of MI may account for the impacts attributed to program participation.
Published: September 2014
Policy Area: Income Security - Social Assistance, Employment - Employment Supports and Services
Population: Social Assistance Recipients - EI Recipients
Type: Full report, Executive summary