We are developing a computer agent (CA)-based medication adviser system that presents patient-centered language to older adults. In an effort to guide the development of this CA to deliver medication instructions in portal environments (or smartphone apps), in this research paper, we assessed patient memory for the medication information delivered by a set of CAs, their affective responses to the information, their perception of the CA’s teaching effectiveness and expressiveness, and their perceived level of similarity with the CAs. Ideally, CA communication combines advantages of interactive media (e.g., conveying affective as well as cognitive meaning) and asynchronous media. Such a system could be especially helpful for older adults, who often focus on social and affective meaning. Preliminary evaluation found a photorealistic CA generated from a video provider was as effective as the video in supporting older adults’ memory for and responses to health information, and more effective than standard formats of communicating health information in EHRs. The present study investigated a broader range of CAs. In an online (Mechanical Turk) study, we evaluated older and younger adults’ responses (n=360) to medication information delivered by the CAs. Each participant saw CAs varying in appearance and levels of realism (Photo-realistic vs Cartoon vs Emoji, as control condition). To investigate the impact of affective cues on patients, we varied CA message framing, with effects described either as gains of taking or losses of not taking the medication. CA speech and appearance was varied to convey affective information, as it is shown to support gist memory as well as motivate patients. Message comprehension was measured by questions about medication purpose and their effects. We also measured perceived agent teaching effectiveness and expressiveness, and perceived similarity (with CA). Overall, older remembered the messages more accurately than younger adults, and moreover rated the CAs more positively, especially the older CAs. The realistic and cartoon CAs were rated more positively than the emoji. Thus, the realistic CAs did not fall into the ‘uncanny valley’. The CA age and realism findings may reflect a 'matching effect', with people preferring CAs that are more similar to them. Furthermore, our findings suggest that gain-framed messages have benefits for adults of all ages. Participants responded more positively to the gain messages, and even rated CAs more positively when they delivered gain messages. This finding has many implications for presenting health information, as this is a domain full of risky decisions that have to be made and communicated. These results corroborate with the idea that CAs can produce a significant effect on older adults' learning in part by engendering social responses.

Learning Objective 1: How do older adults respond to CA-based communication?

Learning Objective 2: How can CA-based communication produce a significant effect on older adults' learning?


Renato Azevedo (Presenter)

Daniel Morrow, UIUC
James Graumlich, UICOMP
Ann Willemsen-Dunlap, Jump Simulation Center
Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Thomas Huang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kuangxiao Gu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Suma Bhat, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tarek Sakakini, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Victor Sadauskas, UICOMP
Donald Halpin, Jump Simulation Center

Presentation Materials: