Development of a Conversational Agent for Individuals Ambivalent About Quitting Smoking: Protocol for a Proof-of-Concept Study

Uma S. Nair, Karah Greene, Stephanie Marhefka, Kristin Kosyluk, Jerome T. Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. Despite the availability of a plethora of evidence-based smoking cessation resources, less than one-third of individuals who smoke seek cessation services, and individuals using these services are often those who are actively contemplating quitting smoking. There is a distinct dearth of low-cost, scalable interventions to support smokers not ready to quit (ambivalent smokers). Such interventions can assist in gradually promoting smoking behavior changes in this target population until motivation to quit arises, at which time they can be navigated to existing evidence-based smoking cessation interventions. Conversational agents or chatbots could provide cessation education and support to ambivalent smokers to build motivation and navigate them to evidence-based resources when ready to quit. Objective: The goal of our study is to test the proof-of-concept of the development and preliminary feasibility and acceptability of a smoking cessation support chatbot. Methods: We will accomplish our study aims in 2 phases. In phase 1, we will survey 300 ambivalent smokers to determine their preferences and priorities for a smoking cessation support chatbot. A “forced-choice experiment” will be administered to understand participants’ preferred characteristics (attributes) of the proposed chatbot prototype. The data gathered will be used to program the prototype. In phase 2, we will invite 25 individuals who smoke to use the developed prototype. For this phase, participants will receive an overview of the chatbot and be encouraged to use the chatbot and engage and interact with the programmed attributes and components for a 2-week period. Results: At the end of phase 1, we anticipate identifying key attributes that ambivalent smokers prefer in a smoking cessation support chatbot. At the end of phase 2, chatbot acceptability and feasibility will be assessed. The study was funded in June 2022, and data collection for both phases of the study is currently ongoing. We expect study results to be published by December 2023. Conclusions: Study results will yield a smoking behavior change chatbot prototype developed for ambivalent smokers that will be ready for efficacy testing in a larger study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere44041
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cigarettes
  • conversational agent
  • mhealth
  • smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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