Examining Patient Engagement in Chatbot Development Approaches for Healthy Lifestyle and Mental Wellness Interventions: Scoping Review

J Particip Med. 2023 May 22:15:e45772. doi: 10.2196/45772.


Background: Chatbots are growing in popularity as they offer a range of potential benefits to end users and service providers.

Objective: Our scoping review aimed to explore studies that used 2-way chatbots to support healthy eating, physical activity, and mental wellness interventions. Our objectives were to report the nontechnical (eg, unrelated to software development) approaches for chatbot development and to examine the level of patient engagement in these reported approaches.

Methods: Our team conducted a scoping review following the framework proposed by Arksey and O'Malley. Nine electronic databases were searched in July 2022. Studies were selected based on our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were then extracted and patient involvement was assessed.

Results: 16 studies were included in this review. We report several approaches to chatbot development, assess patient involvement where possible, and reveal the limited detail available on reporting of patient involvement in the chatbot implementation process. The reported approaches for development included: collaboration with knowledge experts, co-design workshops, patient interviews, prototype testing, the Wizard of Oz (WoZ) procedure, and literature review. Reporting of patient involvement in development was limited; only 3 of the 16 included studies contained sufficient information to evaluate patient engagement using the Guidance for Reporting Involvement of Patients and Public (GRIPP2).

Conclusions: The approaches reported in this review and the identified limitations can guide the inclusion of patient engagement and the improved documentation of engagement in the chatbot development process for future health care research. Given the importance of end user involvement in chatbot development, we hope that future research will more systematically report on chatbot development and more consistently and actively engage patients in the codevelopment process.

Keywords: chatbots; codevelopment; patient engagement; patient involvement; virtual assistants.

Publication types

  • Review