The feasibility of using conversational agent technology to improve problem-solving and coping skills of young adults with cancer
Marlene M von Friederichs-Fitzwater1, Frederick J Meyers2
1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Internal Medicine, 2School of Medicine, University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA, USA
Objective: Young adults with cancer have unique psychosocial needs and often lack the problem-solving and coping skills for effective resolution. We conducted a study to clarify these needs and then developed and tested an educational intervention to coach young adults with cancer in problem-solving and coping skills using a new conversational agent technology that uses a multi-media format to simulate face-to-face encounters.
Methods: We qualitatively assessed online focus groups and chat rooms with 45 young adults with cancer and used the results to develop and test an online 15-minute educational prototype using a new conversational agent technology with 49 young adults (18–35 years of age) with cancer.
Results: Young adults with cancer are most concerned about reproductive issues, emotional issues, communicating with healthcare providers, and the risks and benefits of treatments. The study participants found the I-COPE prototype to be useful, easy to use, and worth recommending to others. They wanted to have more video segments about the experiences of other young adults with cancer; more video segments of actual procedures and treatments; more Internet links to information and resources; and more opportunities to interact with the conversational agent.
Conclusion: New conversational agent technology is useful in coaching problem-solving and coping skills to empower young adults with cancer.
Practice implications: New conversational agent technology is a useful tool in patient education and skill development, particularly among young adults.
Keywords: young adult cancer patients, conversational agent technology, problem-solving, coping, self-efficacy, survivorship
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