Mental Health App Forms Bond with Users, Marking Key Evolution in Digital Therapeutics

What You Should Know:

– Digital therapeutics company Woebot Health announced its findings to an unprecedented and large-scale industry study that sought to understand whether users of its cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)-based conversational agent, Woebot, formed therapeutic alliances (or bonds) with the agent compared to traditional face-to-face therapy and other digital interventions that do not deploy a conversational agent.

– According to the study, the bond that Woebot formed with users appeared to be non-inferior to the bond created between human therapists and patients. Participants’ bond with Woebot was also established in just 3-5 days—far faster than the bond scores in the comparison studies that were all measured between 2 and 6 weeks. Additionally, bond with Woebot does not appear to diminish over time.

– Considered a foundational aspect of all health care delivery and a necessary condition for change, therapeutic bond within a mental health context is measured as an element of the Working Alliance Inventory-Short Revised (WAI-SR). The WAI-SR is a measure that assesses three key aspects of the therapeutic alliance: agreement on the tasks of therapy; agreement on the goals of therapy; and, as explored in this study, development of an affective bond.

– The study follows previous research published in March 2021 in JMIR that showed participants who screened positive for problematic substance use during the pandemic gave Woebot high ratings for affective bond formation.

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