What's Up With These Conversational Health Agents? From Users' Critiques to Implications for Design

Raju Maharjan, Kevin Doherty, Darius Adam Rohani, Per Bækgaard, Jakob E. Bardram*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Recent advancements in speech recognition technology in combination with increased access to smart speaker devices are expanding conversational interactions to ever-new areas of our lives – including our health and wellbeing. Prior human-computer interaction research suggests that Conversational Agents (CAs) have the potential to support a variety of health-related outcomes, due in part to their intuitive and engaging nature. Realizing this potential requires however developing a rich understanding of users' needs and experiences in relation to these still-emerging technologies. To inform the design of CAs for health and wellbeing, we analyze 2741 critical reviews of 485 Alexa health and fitness Skills using an automated topic modeling approach; identifying 15 subjects of criticism across four key areas of design (functionality, reliability, usability, pleasurability). Based on these findings, we discuss implications for the design of engaging CAs to support health and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number840232
JournalFrontiers in Digital Health
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022


  • Alexa
  • Conversational agent (CA)
  • Conversational user interface (CUI)
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Structural topic model (STM)
  • Text analysis
  • Virtual assistant (VA)
  • Voice user interface (VUI)


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