Engaging women with an embodied conversational agent to deliver mindfulness and lifestyle recommendations: A feasibility randomized control trial

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Counseling | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Health Psychology | Integrative Medicine | Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Psychiatry and Psychology | Public Health Education and Promotion | Women's Health


OBJECTIVE: This randomized controlled trial evaluates the feasibility of using an Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) to teach lifestyle modifications to urban women.

METHODS: Women were randomized to either 1) an ECA (content included: mindfulness, stress management, physical activity, and healthy eating) or 2) patient education sheets mirroring same content plus a meditation CD/MP3 once a day for one month. General outcome measures included: number of stress management techniques used, physical activity levels, and eating patterns.

RESULTS: Sixty-one women ages 18 to 50 were enrolled. On average, 51% identified as white, 26% as black, 23% as other races; and 20% as Hispanic. The major stress management techniques reported at baseline were: exercise (69%), listening to music (70%), and social support (66%). After one month, women randomized to the ECA significantly decreased alcohol consumption to reduce stress (p=0.03) and increased daily fruit consumption by an average of 2 servings compared to the control (p=0.04).

CONCLUSION: It is feasible to use an ECA to promote health behaviors on stress management and healthy eating among diverse urban women.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Compared to patient information sheets, ECAs provide promise as a way to teach healthy lifestyle behaviors to diverse urban women.


Embodied conversational agent, Healthy eating, Mindfulness, Mindfulness based stress reduction, Nutrition, Physical activity, Stress management

DOI of Published Version



Patient Educ Couns. 2017 Sep;100(9):1720-1729. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2017.04.015. Epub 2017 Apr 26. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Patient education and counseling


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID