Introduction: Patients are more likely to complete colorectal cancer screening when recommended by a race-concordant healthcare provider. Leveraging virtual healthcare assistants to deliver tailored screening interventions may promote adherence to colorectal cancer screening guidelines among diverse patient populations. The purpose of this pilot study is to determine the efficacy of the Agent Leveraging Empathy for eXams virtual healthcare assistant intervention to increase patient intentions to talk to their doctor about colorectal cancer screening. It also examines the influence of animation and race concordance on intentions to complete colorectal cancer screening. Methods: White and Black adults (N=1,363) aged 50–73 years and not adherent to colorectal cancer screening guidelines were recruited from Qualtrics Panels in 2018 to participate in a 3-arm (animated virtual healthcare assistant, static virtual healthcare assistant, attention control) message design experiment. In 2020, a probit regression model was used to identify the intervention effects. Results: Participants assigned to the animated virtual healthcare assistant (p<0.01) reported higher intentions to talk to their doctor about colorectal cancer screening than participants assigned to the other conditions. There was a significant effect of race concordance on colorectal cancer screening intentions but only in the static virtual healthcare assistant condition (p=0.04). Participant race, age, trust in healthcare providers, health literacy, and cancer information overload were also significant predictors of colorectal cancer screening intentions. Conclusions: Animated virtual healthcare assistants were efficacious compared with the static virtual healthcare assistant and attention control conditions. The influence of race concordance between source and participant was inconsistent across conditions. This warrants additional investigation in future studies given the potential for virtual healthcare assistant‒assisted interventions to promote colorectal cancer screening within guidelines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health