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Virtual patient advocate delivers preconception care to improve pregnancy outcomes
Date:4/30/2013

her recommendations from participants about the name, gender and physical appearance of the VPA. Previous research has shown that African-Americans prefer a VPA who is their same race and gender, and the results of these studies also indicated that participants would feel comfortable discussing PCC health topics with a VPA who was a young, female health care provider. These results helped the researchers create Gabby.

Women between the ages of 15 and 25 interact and engage with Gabby online by answering her questions about current health habits and conditions. Through this interactive dialogue, where participants can pick from answers or write in their own, Gabby screens for PCC risks, educates the participants about their risks and assesses whether they are ready to make lifestyle changes to decrease their risks. Based on participant's responses, Gabby helps create a custom "My Health To-Do List," which users can review and share with their providers.

Participants reported an average of 23 preconception risks. In the two-month pilot study, 83 percent of the risks added to the "My Health To-Do List" were either addressed or resolved by the users by the end of the pilot. For example, if a woman identified that she was not taking folic acid at the beginning of the pilot but had bought a folic acid supplement, she had addressed the risk. If she started taking it by the end of the pilot, she had resolved the risk. Therefore, Gabby was effective in helping those who were contemplating behavior change to move forward and take action.

The participants indicated that the Gabby system is a valuable addition to their health care routine and could be used either to prepare for an appointment with a provider or to reinforce information discussed during an appointment. They found Gabby trustworthy and reliable and found that she provided helpful information in an appropriate amount of time. The results also show that Gabby addressed some barriers to
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Contact: Jenny Eriksen
jenny.eriksen@bmc.org
617-638-6841
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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