Identifying Potential Gamification Elements for A New Chatbot for Families With Neurodevelopmental Disorders: User-Centered Design Approach

JMIR Hum Factors. 2022 Aug 19;9(3):e31991. doi: 10.2196/31991.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Chatbots have been increasingly considered for applications in the health care field. However, it remains unclear how a chatbot can assist users with complex health needs, such as parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) who need ongoing support. Often, this population must deal with complex and overwhelming health information, which can make parents less likely to use a software that may be very helpful. An approach to enhance user engagement is incorporating game elements in nongame contexts, known as gamification. Gamification needs to be tailored to users; however, there has been no previous assessment of gamification use in chatbots for NDDs.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine how gamification elements are perceived and whether their implementation in chatbots will be well received among parents of children with NDDs. We have discussed some elements in detail as the initial step of the project.

METHODS: We performed a narrative literature review of gamification elements, specifically those used in health and education. Among the elements identified in the literature, our health and social science experts in NDDs prioritized five elements for in-depth discussion: goal setting, customization, rewards, social networking, and unlockable content. We used a qualitative approach, which included focus groups and interviews with parents of children with NDDs (N=21), to assess the acceptability of the potential implementation of these elements in an NDD-focused chatbot. Parents were asked about their opinions on the 5 elements and to rate them. Video and audio recordings were transcribed and summarized for emerging themes, using deductive and inductive thematic approaches.

RESULTS: From the responses obtained from 21 participants, we identified three main themes: parents of children with NDDs were familiar with and had positive experiences with gamification; a specific element (goal setting) was important to all parents, whereas others (customization, rewards, and unlockable content) received mixed opinions; and the social networking element received positive feedback, but concerns about information accuracy were raised.

CONCLUSIONS: We showed for the first time that parents of children with NDDs support gamification use in a chatbot for NDDs. Our study illustrates the need for a user-centered design in the medical domain and provides a foundation for researchers interested in developing chatbots for populations that are medically vulnerable. Future studies exploring wide range of gamification elements with large number of potential users are needed to understand the impact of gamification elements in enhancing knowledge mobilization.

PMID:35984679 | DOI:10.2196/31991

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