Chat about your sexual health to a computer

Published on November 17, 2022 –  Conversational agents that promote sexual health may not only be effective, but also users find them easy to use, very useful and highly satisfactory. 

Conversational agents for promoting sexual health have been around for over a decade, although recent technological advancements have allowed them to flourish over the last five years. As part of the NWO-funded project “Look Who’s Talking”, ASCoR-researcher Divyaa Balaji and colleagues from other Dutch and Belgian universities conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on interventions utilizing conversational agents that promote one or more aspects of sexual health.

Our meta-analysis suggests that interventions using conversational agents for promoting sexual health are especially useful for antiretroviral treatment adherence, while other or more interventions are needed to address other sexual health behaviours. Fortunately, users found interventions using conversational agents highly acceptable, which confirms their potential. For a better user experience, the most important area for improvement is the overall quality of information provided by the conversational agents about sexual health topics.

In addition to more pragmatic needs such as ease of use and usefulness, user needs also appear to encompass other factors such as social presence, emotional support and comfort. These additional factors might be specific to user acceptance in sensitive domains such as sexual health as the chatbot needs to create an environment of trust, acceptance and empathy to make individuals more comfortable and willing to engage, which are worth exploring in future studies.

Check out the article here.