News Release: Hopelab’s Vivibot, the First Chatbot Designed for Young Adult Cancer Survivors, Can Improve Mental Well-being of Users
Study shows award-winning social media chatbot, co-created by young adults with cancer diagnoses, can help reduce anxiety following cancer treatment
Hopelab today announced study results showing that Vivibot, a chatbot designed to support young adults following cancer treatment, can reduce anxiety in its users. Vivibot is the first chatbot designed to support mental well-being in young people during the challenging period after cancer treatment, and was co-created with young people living with cancer. Vivibot uses skills based on positive psychology to decrease stress and improve emotions in its users. A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that Vivibot is helpful and relevant to young people dealing with cancer and can improve anxiety after a month of use.
Nearly 60,000 young adults in the U.S. complete cancer treatment each year, and many of these survivors experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder in the months following treatment. Interventions based on positive psychology have led to improved emotional well-being outcomes in several clinical populations; however, until Vivibot, no intervention to improve positive emotions had focused specifically on young cancer survivors, nor had they been designed for delivery using chatbot technology.
“By building a multi-faceted team made up of young people living with cancer, deep subject matter experts, behavioral scientists, and product designers, we were able to develop a tool that merged evidence-based strategies with a relatable voice that felt authentic and meaningful to young adults who have undergone cancer treatment. Plus, we wanted to deliver the tool in a format that would be widely accessible, available 24/7, and have a non-judgmental tone.” said Danielle Ramo, PhD, Research Director at Hopelab. “The result is a first of its kind, chatbot-based support product that survivors really respond to, and, as the data shows, is addressing unmet mental health needs.”
The Hopelab team worked closely with young adult cancer survivors to ensure that the positive psychology skills Vivibot delivers would be reflective of their experience. Vivibot delivers a new skill every day for a month, using a mix of interactive chatting, mood reports, and videos featuring young people who have had a cancer diagnosis sharing their real-life experiences with these approaches. Vivibot’s skill-based content is based on a well-validated model developed by psychologists at Northwestern University and consists of positive emotion and coping skills like expressing gratitude, practicing mindfulness, setting attainable goals, and identifying the positive aspects of tough situations. Young people who have undergone cancer treatment, as well as their friends and family, can access the chatbot any time free of cost to get immediate support.
Researchers at Hopelab and Northwestern University conducted a randomized controlled study to assess how users are engaging with Vivibot, and whether engagement would lead to improvements in mood. A sample of 51 young adults who had completed cancer treatment within the past five years were randomized to either engage with Vivibot for a month or, in the control group, to simply rate their feelings for a month. After four weeks, participants who had interacted with Vivibot reported a reduction in anxiety as measured by the NIH-sponsored Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) – anxiety scale, while those in the control group who had only rated their mood had slightly increased anxiety. Users who interacted with Vivibot found the chatbot helpful, would recommend it to friends, and noted its tone and disposition as a particular benefit. One user commented, “I like expressing myself to something non-judgemental, who could also talk back in kind words.” Find the full study here.
Vivibot is actively being used in a number of hospital system cancer programs. “Vivibot is a way you can help your patients to change their mindsets from cancer treatment to survivorship,” said Pamela Simon, Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Hemotology-Oncology, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “Every patient has to make that shift on their own. Giving them a tool that’s available for them at all times enables this.”
Learn more about Vivibot at https://www.vivibot.org/