Unlocking human-like conversations: Scoping review of automation techniques for personalized healthcare interventions using conversational agents

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Background: Conversational agents (CAs) offer a sustainable approach to deliver personalized interventions and improve health outcomes. Objectives: To review how human-like communication and automation techniques of CAs in personalized healthcare interventions have been implemented. It is intended for designers and developers, computational scientists, behavior scientists, and biomedical engineers who aim at developing CAs for healthcare interventions. Methodology: A scoping review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA Extension for Scoping Review. A search was performed in May 2023 in Web of Science, Pubmed, Scopus and IEEE databases. Search results were extracted, duplicates removed, and the remaining results were screened. Studies that contained personalized and automated CAs within the healthcare domain were included. Information regarding study characterization, and human-like communication and automation techniques was extracted from articles that met the eligibility criteria. Results: Twenty-three studies were selected. These articles described the development of CAs designed for patients to either self-manage their diseases (such as diabetes, mental health issues, cancer, asthma, COVID-19, and other chronic conditions) or to enhance healthy habits. The human-like communication characteristics studied encompassed aspects like system flexibility, personalization, and affective characteristics. Seven studies used rule-based models, eleven applied retrieval-based techniques for content delivery, five used AI models, and six integrated affective computing. Conclusions: The increasing interest in employing CAs for personalized healthcare interventions is noteworthy. The adaptability of dialogue structures and personalization features is still limited. Unlocking human-like conversations may encompass the use of affective computing and generative AI to help improve user engagement. Future research should focus on the integration of holistic methods to describe the end-user, and the safe use of generative models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105385
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automation
  • Conversational Agents
  • Healthcare
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Personalization


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