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Vivibot at the Society for Prevention Research

Insight
Chatbots

During the last week of May, Vivibot is visiting the Society for Prevention Research. “Prevention” may seem like an odd fit for Vivibot since most people are meeting Vivibot very late on their cancer journey. We’re excited to see continuing advances to prevent cancer itself—but we’re excited to share learnings about how Vivibot is focused on a different kind of prevention. We’re hoping to arm survivors with the tools they need to prevent the downward spiral of emotional distress that all too often follows young survivors years into post-treatment life.

Vivibot is a chatbot that uses the power of positive psychology, a field that focuses on improving positive emotions, rather than reducing negative ones. Skills that focus on increasing emotions such as expressing gratitude and conducting acts of kindness have been shown to reduce depression symptoms in adults and help people through a whole host of chronic illnesses like heart disease and HIV. Until Vivibot, they had never been delivered through a chatbot. Chatbots can be a useful way to deliver skills-based interventions because they are easy to get out into the world, and, especially for young people, they may be easier to talk to than a live person.

We’ve heard that for young adults in particular survivorship can be one of the toughest challenges they face—and that’s after facing cancer itself. We’ve heard from users that talking to Vivibot can help them, “openly talk about treatment” and “express myself to something non-judgemental who could also talk back in kind words.”

We think that this is starting to indicate that Vivibot can be a tool to get on the path of preventing serious mental health issues that can arrive after cancer. We believe that because Vivibot uses evidence-backed positive psychology techniquesthat chatting with the full Vivibot could lead to reductions in symptoms of anxiety that can help reduce the chances of these issues taking root and getting out of control. And we’ve been putting this to the test.

Last fall we conducted a study including data from 45 young adult cancer survivors to test whether four weeks of using Vivibot versus four weeks of rating emotions only.

Our results are showing some promising and substantial reductions in anxiety that are validating our hunches and what we’re hearing from our users in a rigorous way. We’re excited to be presenting the results from this study at the Society for Prevention Research and contributing to the scientific community on new types of solutions for mental health prevention. Stay tuned later this year as we work to publish this study.

A huge thank you goes out to all the study participants who made this work possible.


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