In search of embodied conversational and explainable agents for health behaviour change and adherence

Amal Abdulrahman, Deborah Richards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


Conversational agents offer promise to provide an alternative to costly and scarce access to human health providers. Particularly in the context of adherence to treatment advice and health behavior change, they can provide an ongoing coaching role to motivate and keep the health consumer on track. Due to the recognized importance of face-to-face communication and establishment of a therapist-patient working alliance as the biggest single predictor of adherence, our review focuses on embodied conversational agents (ECAs) and their use in health and well-being interventions. The article also introduces ECAs who provide explanations of their recommendations, known as explainable agents (XAs), as a way to build trust and enhance the working alliance towards improved behavior change. Of particular promise, is work in which XAs are able to engage in conversation to learn about their user and personalize their recommendations based on their knowledge of the user and then tailor their explanations to the beliefs and goals of the user to increase relevancy and motivation and address possible barriers to increase intention to perform the healthy behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalMultimodal Technologies and Interaction
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Health behaviour change
  • Embodied conversational agents
  • Explainable agents
  • Working alliance


Dive into the research topics of 'In search of embodied conversational and explainable agents for health behaviour change and adherence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this