Intelligent Conversational Agents in Mental Healthcare Services: A Thematic Analysis of User Perceptions

Ashish Viswanath Prakash, Saini Das

Abstract


Background: The emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) based Conversational Agents (CA) capable of delivering evidence-based psychotherapy presents a unique opportunity to solve longstanding issues such as social stigma and demand-supply imbalance associated with traditional mental health care services. However, the emerging literature points to several socio-ethical challenges which may act as inhibitors to the adoption in the minds of the consumers. We also observe a paucity of research focusing on determinants of adoption and use of AI-based CAs in mental healthcare. In this setting, this study aims to understand the factors influencing the adoption and use of Intelligent CAs in mental healthcare by examining the perceptions of actual users.

Method: The study followed a qualitative approach based on netnography and used a rigorous iterative thematic analysis of publicly available user reviews of popular mental health chatbots to develop a comprehensive framework of factors influencing the user’s decision to adopt mental healthcare CA.

Results: We developed a comprehensive thematic map comprising of four main themes, namely, perceived risk, perceived benefits, trust, and perceived anthropomorphism, along with its 12 constituent subthemes that provides a visualization of the factors that govern the user’s adoption and use of mental healthcare CA.

Conclusions: Insights from our research could guide future research on mental healthcare CA use behavior. Additionally, it could also aid designers in framing better design decisions that meet consumer expectations. Our research could also guide healthcare policymakers and regulators in integrating this technology into formal healthcare delivery systems.

Keywords


Artificial Intelligence; Thematic Analysis; Mental Health Chatbots; Technology Adoption; Privacy Calculus; Anthropomorphism

Full Text:

PDF
Views 937

Citation: Prakash, A. V., & Das, S. (2020). Intelligent Conversational Agents in Mental Healthcare Services: A Thematic Analysis of User Perceptions. Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 12(2), 1-33. https://doi.org/10.17705/1pais.12201