Talk About Death: End of Life Planning with a Virtual Agent
For those nearing the end of life, “wellness” must encompass reduction in suffering as well as the promotion of behaviors that mitigate stress and help people prepare for death. We discuss the design of a virtual conversational palliative care coach that works with individuals during their last year of life to help them manage symptoms, reduce stress, identify and address unmet spiritual needs, and support advance care planning. We present the results of an experiment that features the reactions of older adults in discussing these topics with a virtual agent, and note the importance of discussing spiritual needs in the context of end-of-life conversations. We find that all participants are comfortable discussing these topics with an agent, and that their discussion leads to reductions in state and death anxiety, as well as significant increase in intent to create a last will and testament.
KeywordsConversational agent Relational agent Spirituality Palliative care
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