Chatbots have become an increasingly popular tool in the field of health services and communications. Despite chatbots’ significance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, few studies have performed a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of chatbots in improving vaccine confidence and acceptance. In Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore, from February 11th to June 30th, 2022, we conducted multisite randomised controlled trials (RCT) on 2,045 adult guardians of children and seniors who were unvaccinated or had delayed vaccinations. After a week of using COVID-19 vaccine chatbots, the differences in vaccine confidence and acceptance were compared between the intervention and control groups. Compared to non-users, fewer chatbot users reported decreased confidence in vaccine effectiveness in the Thailand child group [Intervention: 4.3 % vs. Control: 17%, P = 0.023]. However, more chatbot users reported decreased vaccine acceptance [26% vs. 12%, P = 0.028] in Hong Kong child group and decreased vaccine confidence in safety [29% vs. 10%, P = 0.041] in Singapore child group. There was no statistically significant change in vaccine confidence or acceptance in the Hong Kong senior group. Employing the RE-AIM framework, process evaluation indicated strong acceptance and implementation support for vaccine chatbots from stakeholders, with high levels of sustainability and scalability. This multisite, parallel RCT study on vaccine chatbots found mixed success in improving vaccine confidence and acceptance among unvaccinated Asian subpopulations. Further studies that link chatbot usage and real-world vaccine uptake are needed to augment evidence for employing vaccine chatbots to advance vaccine confidence and acceptance.
Learn more in our study and see key findings: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-023-00843-6