The personalization of conversational agents in health care: systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: The personalization of conversational agents with natural language user interfaces is seeing increasing use in health care applications, shaping the content, structure, or purpose of the dialogue between humans and conversational agents.

Objective: The goal of this systematic review was to understand the ways in which personalization has been used with conversational agents in health care and characterize the methods of its implementation.

Methods: We searched on PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and ACM Digital Library using a predefined search strategy. The studies were included if they: (1) were primary research studies that focused on consumers, caregivers, or health care professionals; (2) involved a conversational agent with an unconstrained natural language interface; (3) tested the system with human subjects; and (4) implemented personalization features.

Results: The search found 1958 publications. After abstract and full-text screening, 13 studies were included in the review. Common examples of personalized content included feedback, daily health reports, alerts, warnings, and recommendations. The personalization features were implemented without a theoretical framework of customization and with limited evaluation of its impact. While conversational agents with personalization features were reported to improve user satisfaction, user engagement and dialogue quality, the role of personalization in improving health outcomes was not assessed directly.

Conclusions: Most of the studies in our review implemented the personalization features without theoretical or evidence-based support for them and did not leverage the recent developments in other domains of personalization. Future research could incorporate personalization as a distinct design factor with a more careful consideration of its impact on health outcomes and its implications on patient safety, privacy, and decision-making.
LanguageEnglish
Article numbere15360
Pages1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume21
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2019

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Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. 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.

Keywords

  • conversational interfaces
  • conversational agents
  • dialogue systems
  • personalization
  • customization
  • adaptive systems
  • health care

Cite this

@article{0fa209a217dd44b8a9fe87db7f41ba29,
title = "The personalization of conversational agents in health care: systematic review",
abstract = "Background: The personalization of conversational agents with natural language user interfaces is seeing increasing use in health care applications, shaping the content, structure, or purpose of the dialogue between humans and conversational agents. Objective: The goal of this systematic review was to understand the ways in which personalization has been used with conversational agents in health care and characterize the methods of its implementation. Methods: We searched on PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and ACM Digital Library using a predefined search strategy. The studies were included if they: (1) were primary research studies that focused on consumers, caregivers, or health care professionals; (2) involved a conversational agent with an unconstrained natural language interface; (3) tested the system with human subjects; and (4) implemented personalization features. Results: The search found 1958 publications. After abstract and full-text screening, 13 studies were included in the review. Common examples of personalized content included feedback, daily health reports, alerts, warnings, and recommendations. The personalization features were implemented without a theoretical framework of customization and with limited evaluation of its impact. While conversational agents with personalization features were reported to improve user satisfaction, user engagement and dialogue quality, the role of personalization in improving health outcomes was not assessed directly. Conclusions: Most of the studies in our review implemented the personalization features without theoretical or evidence-based support for them and did not leverage the recent developments in other domains of personalization. Future research could incorporate personalization as a distinct design factor with a more careful consideration of its impact on health outcomes and its implications on patient safety, privacy, and decision-making.",
keywords = "conversational interfaces, conversational agents, dialogue systems, personalization, customization, adaptive systems, health care",
author = "Kocaballi, {Ahmet Baki} and Shlomo Berkovsky and Quiroz, {Juan C.} and Liliana Laranjo and Tong, {Huong Ly} and Dana Rezazadegan and Agustina Briatore and Enrico Coiera",
note = "Copyright the Author(s) 2019. 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.",
year = "2019",
month = "11",
day = "7",
doi = "10.2196/15360",
language = "English",
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AU - Quiroz, Juan C.

AU - Laranjo, Liliana

AU - Tong, Huong Ly

AU - Rezazadegan, Dana

AU - Briatore, Agustina

AU - Coiera, Enrico

N1 - Copyright the Author(s) 2019. 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.

PY - 2019/11/7

Y1 - 2019/11/7

N2 - Background: The personalization of conversational agents with natural language user interfaces is seeing increasing use in health care applications, shaping the content, structure, or purpose of the dialogue between humans and conversational agents. Objective: The goal of this systematic review was to understand the ways in which personalization has been used with conversational agents in health care and characterize the methods of its implementation. Methods: We searched on PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and ACM Digital Library using a predefined search strategy. The studies were included if they: (1) were primary research studies that focused on consumers, caregivers, or health care professionals; (2) involved a conversational agent with an unconstrained natural language interface; (3) tested the system with human subjects; and (4) implemented personalization features. Results: The search found 1958 publications. After abstract and full-text screening, 13 studies were included in the review. Common examples of personalized content included feedback, daily health reports, alerts, warnings, and recommendations. The personalization features were implemented without a theoretical framework of customization and with limited evaluation of its impact. While conversational agents with personalization features were reported to improve user satisfaction, user engagement and dialogue quality, the role of personalization in improving health outcomes was not assessed directly. Conclusions: Most of the studies in our review implemented the personalization features without theoretical or evidence-based support for them and did not leverage the recent developments in other domains of personalization. Future research could incorporate personalization as a distinct design factor with a more careful consideration of its impact on health outcomes and its implications on patient safety, privacy, and decision-making.

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