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J Biomed Inform. 2006 Oct;39(5):468-81. Epub 2006 Feb 23.

How to write health dialog for a talking computer.

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Medical Information Systems Unit, Department of Medicine, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, USA.


Automated dialogue systems delivered over the telephone offer a promising approach to delivering health-related interventions to populations of individuals at low-cost. Over the past two decades, an automated telephone system called Telephone-Linked Care or TLC has been successfully designed and evaluated by the authors and their colleagues. This work has resulted in over twenty systems for various health-related conditions and lifestyle behaviors. This paper describes our approach to developing and writing dialogue for these automated telephone systems, including determining the program objectives, defining the target population, and selecting a theory of behavior change to guide the intervention. Both macro and micro issues are considered in constructing dialogue systems that are engaging for the target population, easy to use, and effective at promoting positive health behaviors and outcomes.

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