Conversational agent-based online searches preferred for patients with low-health literacy

Finding health information through an online search can be harder for patients who have low health literacy, but health counseling dialog systems can help with that, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

The researchers, from Northeastern University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Boston Medical Center, found that regular "Web form-based" searches for health information can be frustrating for people. A trial using 89 participants found that many preferred finding information through a conversational agent-based process, wherein audiovisual information is combined with speech instead of text.

Such search interfaces could be good in many instances, the report's authors say, but "especially for those intended for low health literacy users or those with limited computer experience or skills." Study