Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate if and how an artificially intelligent chat agent (chatbot) that answers questions about sex, drugs, and alcohol is used and evaluated by adolescents, especially in comparison with information lines and search engines.
Methods: A sample of 929 adolescents (64% girls, mean age = 15), varying in urbanization level and educational level, participated in this study. Use of the chatbot was objectively tracked through server registrations (e.g., frequency and duration of conversations with the chatbot, the number and topics of queries), and a web-based questionnaire was used to evaluate the chatbot (e.g., the perception of anonymity, conciseness, ease of use, fun, quality and quantity of information, and speed) and to compare it with information lines and search engines.
Results: The chatbot reached high school attendees in general and not only adolescents with previous experience related to sex, drugs, or alcohol; this is promising from an informed decision-making point of view. Frequency (M = 11) and duration of conversations (3:57 minutes) was high and the chatbot was evaluated positively, especially in comparison with information lines and search engines.
Conclusion: The use of chatbots within the field of health promotion has a large potential to reach a varied group of adolescents and to provide them with answers to their questions related to sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Copyright © 2011 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.