Personalized and engaging digital interventions for behavioral change to facilitate long-term effects

Digital health behavior change interventions are being developed and tested at a growing pace. Indeed, digital communication technologies offer a vast array of opportunities to facilitate and support behavior change at a large scale including large uptake, constant availability and computational capabilities for data analysis. Compared to real-life personal coaches, they can be cost-effective and more scalable. However, they fail to retain engagement and show limited long-term effects due to lack of personalization of coaching interactions, an undisputed asset of real-life coaching.

IMPERIO aims to develop and evaluate an effective smoking cessation program, delivered by a conversational agent or ‘chatbot’ serving as virtual coach that guides the user through a personalized & contextualized coaching program. Therefore, a strong research focus lies on the development of a trustworthy and effective virtual coach, particularly in terms of personalized conversations. Through self-learning algorithms, the chatbot coach will determine the optimal point to engage with the user. It will automatically construct personalized conversation flows to achieve the optimal coaching strategy tailored to the context, profile, personality traits, behavior & motivation of the user. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the system for smoking cessation is the final outcome.

Stop smoking

The chatbot Ota plays fun games with the smoker and engages the smoker to interact. These games are Just One Lie, List Builder, Where Am I, and Story Builder. Each of these games either educates the user or gathers the smoker’s personal data. The hidden features in these games detect smoking triggers. After playing these games over a period of a few days, the chatbot manages to create a user profile of the smoker and has detected many of their smoking triggers. In the demo below a quick view is given on these different games.