Effects of a personified guide on adherence to an online program for alcohol abusers

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2006 Oct;9(5):603-7. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9.603.


The quality of the therapeutic alliance has robust effects on the outcome of psychotherapy and psychopharmacologic interventions. Automated behavioral health programs that are being developed to increase access to mental health treatment are administered in the absence of direct human participation, thereby precluding the development of a traditional therapeutic relationship. The aim of this study was to develop a personified guide designed to stimulate reactions similar to those experienced in a therapeutic relationship, and evaluate the effect of the guide on adherence to and satisfaction with an online alcohol use evaluation program. After completing a battery of four standard questionnaires used to evaluate problem drinking, 288 subjects were randomized to receive feedback on their results in text form or via a multimedia condition involving a personified guide. Those who received feedback via the guide demonstrated greater levels of program adherence by completing more modules. Reported satisfactions levels did not differ between the two conditions. Encouraging the personification of an automated behavioral health intervention may lead to greater levels of engagement with the program.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Online Systems*
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Software*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome