The option on Facebook Messenger to prevent eating disorders

The chatbot that can help you have a healthy life and eating disorders. (photo: ESAN)

A new study conducted in U.S has determined that a chatbot can help reduce a person’s chances of developing an eating disorder

According Ellen FitzsimmonsCraft, study author and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, for women at high risk of developing an eating disorder, a conversation with a robot developed by the researchers reduced anxiety about weight and body shape, a factor that contributes to the risk of your chances of getting sick.

How the chatbot worked in the study carried out

The team has developed a chatbot version of the Eating Disorder Prevention Program StudentBodies, which is normally offered through a website and includes informational content, exercises, and journal reminders.

In addition, participants can use the chatbot through SMS or Facebook Messenger.

The study recruited women through online advertisements, brochures, and the National Eating Disorders Association’s online screening test. Women who did not have an active eating disorder but had risk factors, such as a negative body image or excessive anxiety about your weight, they were randomly assigned to interact with the chatbot or sit on the waiting list.

The chatbot launched eight conversations on topics related to body image and healthy eating, and women using the bot were encouraged to have two conversations per week.

Chatbot.  (photo: Planet Chatbot)
Chatbot. (photo: Planet Chatbot)

In the third and sixth month they were seen, women who spoke to the chatbot experienced a greater reduction in concerns in a survey about their weight and body shape, a major risk factor for developing an eating disorder, compared to women who were on the waiting list.

The study also found some evidence that lThe women in the chatbot group were less likely to have developed a clinical eating disorder at the end of the six months than the women in the waiting list group.

FitzimmonsCraft He thinks chatbots, like the one his team is developing, could be a good fit for National Eating Disorder Association testing or even universities, where people may start to show signs of an eating disorder. Chatbots are not designed for people who already have a clinical disorder, but those with risk factors can be referred.

Chatbot.  (photo: Nube Digital MX)
Chatbot. (photo: Nube Digital MX)

People at risk for eating disorders too can be identified through your web search history, according to FitzimmonsCraft, and possibly through its behavior on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Partner with platforms like Google or Instagram can help flag behaviors that indicate a person is at risk and link them to bots. “I think it’s worth exploring,” he said. “He is ready to identify people who may need help with these problems and intervene on the spot.”

Chatbots can also be useful for other types of mental health problems where prevention is important, says FitzimmonsCraft. They will not be suitable for all or all problems, but they are an inexpensive tool and the barrier to entry is low.

But groups at risk could still benefit from stepping away from a potential problem. FitzimmonsCraft concluded that “for someone who doesn’t really need help with our study or who might actively need it, who is at high risk, who doesn’t have a clinical problem, this might be the right thing to do.”


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