Online Program

Interactive experience with virtual character to improve program use

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Chris Corio, Engineered Care, San Francisco, CA
John Graham, PhD, North Carolina Institute for Public Health, UNC-CH, School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC
Vandna Mittal, MPH, Engineered Care, San Francisco, CA
Erin Shoe, MPH, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Kannapolis, NC
Background-The Beacon Community, Cabbarus Health Alliance and North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH) collaborated to adapt a Virtual Character to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) environment. The WIC Video Game project leveraged Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) technology from Engineered Care. The WIC Video Game was designed to introduce WIC to new clients. Topics included (1) How to Read Food Vouchers and (2) Intro to WIC. The virtual character, Anna, is a pregnant WIC participant excited to share with her peers. Anna uses teach-back to ensure user comprehension. Objective-The purpose of this study was to assess satisfaction with and effectiveness of the WIC Video Game in the WIC programs of Cabarrus Health Alliance and Rowan and Stanly Health Departments. The study assessed the resources and time required to implement a digital health education solution. Methods-Touch-screen tablets were provided at three WIC centers. Paper surveys were provided to WIC clients following the interaction to assess client satisfaction, knowledge and confidence. Results-At this time the evaluation is still in process; however, preliminary findings suggest that WIC participants find the “Anna” experience to be an engaging one. Anecdotally, participants offered that “This was better than face-to-face cause I have a tendency to zone out when someone talks to me” and “I liked her”. In addition, “Anna” appears to be an effective learning option with participants noting that “Anna is …better than a DVD” and “this was better than someone talking to you.” Discussion-Effectively this project is a pilot intended to collect some preliminary findings about the efficacy of a computer avatar as a health educator. Assuming positive results with WIC clients, we plan to expand the role of “Anna” to include health education in other public health clinical services and for community-based interventions.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the benefits and challenges in using Virtual Characters in health education.

Keyword(s): Health Education, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinated the efforts to create, analyze, design and build the technology.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Engineered Care Health IT Innovation Stock Ownership

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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