Reaction to “Talking” Computers Assessing Health Risks

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The authors examined reactions to AVIVA—a talking computer that assesses health risk, gives priorities for risk reduction, discusses risk reduction methods, and refers callers to additional information. Subjects' reactions to AVIVA were compared to receiving health information from magazines, television, or a health professional. Data were collected from 96 randomly chosen employees of Cleveland State University. Employees were invited to participate based on a stratified sample that encouraged enrollment of men and women and enrollment of faculty, professional and nonprofessional staff. The majority (71%) of subjects with access to AVIVA used it. Those who did not use AVIVA gave various reasons; less than 4% did not participate in AVIVA because they objected to a computer giving advice regarding health risks. Subjects rated AVIVA as more accurate, easier to understand, more convenient, more affordable, easier to use, and more accessible than health education received from television, magazines, or health professionals. None of the at-risk subjects sought additional information from a library of videotapes available to them. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant difference between the control and the experimental groups in the intent to reduce risk factors. Therefore, despite use and satisfaction with AVIVA, the authors concluded that there was no impact on subjects' behavior or intent to change behavior.

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