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Talk About Death: End of Life Planning with a Virtual Agent

  • Dina Utami
  • Timothy BickmoreEmail author
  • Asimina Nikolopoulou
  • Michael Paasche-Orlow
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10498)

Abstract

For those nearing the end of life, “wellness” must encompass reduction in suffering as well as the promotion of behaviors that mitigate stress and help people prepare for death. We discuss the design of a virtual conversational palliative care coach that works with individuals during their last year of life to help them manage symptoms, reduce stress, identify and address unmet spiritual needs, and support advance care planning. We present the results of an experiment that features the reactions of older adults in discussing these topics with a virtual agent, and note the importance of discussing spiritual needs in the context of end-of-life conversations. We find that all participants are comfortable discussing these topics with an agent, and that their discussion leads to reductions in state and death anxiety, as well as significant increase in intent to create a last will and testament.

Keywords

Conversational agent Relational agent Spirituality Palliative care 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dina Utami
    • 1
  • Timothy Bickmore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Asimina Nikolopoulou
    • 1
  • Michael Paasche-Orlow
    • 2
  1. 1.Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Boston Medical CenterBostonUSA

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