A Scoping Review of Patient-Facing, Behavioral Health Interventions with Voice Assistant Technology Targeting Self-management and Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors
(2020) Translational Behavioral Medicine. DOI: 10.1093/tbm/ibz141.
Posted: 8 May 2019 Last revised: 29 Sep 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2019
Background: Engaging in positive healthy lifestyle behaviors continues to be a public health challenge, requiring innovative solutions. As the market for voice assistants (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri) grows and people increasingly use them to assist their daily tasks, there is a pressing need to explore how voice assistant technology may be used in behavioral health interventions.
Purpose: A scoping review of literature was conducted to address a PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome) question: across populations, how does the use of voice assistants in behavioral health research/interventions influence healthy lifestyle behaviors versus control or comparison interventions? To inform the science, a secondary aim of this review was to explore characteristics of voice assistants used in behavioral health research.
Methods: The review was conducted following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis guidelines with scoping review extension (PRISMA-ScR).
Results: Ten studies satisfied the inclusion criteria, representing research published through February 2019. Studies spanned pediatric to elderly populations, covering a vast array of self-management and healthy lifestyle behaviors. The majority of interventions were multicomponent, involving more than one of the following behavior change techniques grouped by cluster: shaping knowledge, self-belief, repetition and substitution, feedback and monitoring, goals and planning, antecedents, natural consequences, comparison of behavior, and identification. However, most studies were in early stages of development, with limited efficacy trials.
Conclusions: Voice assistant technology continues to evolve and support behavioral interventions using various platforms (e.g. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, smartphones, smart speakers) which are used alone or in conjunction with other platforms. Feasibility, usability, preliminary efficacy, along with high user satisfaction of research adapted voice assistants, in contrast to standalone commercially available voice assistants, suggests a role for voice assistants in behavioral health intervention research.
Keywords: voice assistants, conversational agents, self-management, behavioral research, mobile phone, healthy lifestyle
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