Evaluation of a virtual dialogue method for breast cancer patient education

William G. Harless, Marcia A. Zier, Michael G. Harless, Robert C. Duncan, Mary Ann Braun, Shawna Willey, Claudine Isaacs, Robert D. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Virtual dialogue-a voice-activated, interactive computer model that enables a user to have an individual virtual conversation with a real person-was evaluated as a method to educate women about breast cancer. Virtual dialogues with breast cancer experts were developed and used in a field study by women with and without the disease to assess the method's effectiveness. Methods: In a clinical setting, subjects engaged in one-on-one virtual dialogues with an oncologist and a breast surgeon, and completed automated pre-post instruments developed to measure the feasibility of the method, and subjects' knowledge gain and acceptance of the method. Results: Seventy women, 39 with breast cancer and 31 without the disease, participated. The data demonstrated the feasibility and acceptance of the method, and significant learning gain across all subjects. Conclusion: Virtual dialogues with knowledgeable health professionals can be a new and effective method for educating women about breast cancer. Practice implications: Virtual dialogues may systematically comfort patients while providing them with comprehensive and reliable basic information about breast cancer. The method may also give health care providers more time to address their patients' specific concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-195
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer education
  • Computer based
  • Interactive
  • Patient education
  • Simulation
  • Speech recognition
  • Virtual conversation
  • Virtual dialogue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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