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Survey finds many patients prefer virtual doctors when discussing sexual health

Although GPs are still the preferred choice for discussing severe health conditions such as cancers, researchers have found that talking about more stigmatised health conditions associated with sex are more likely to seek help from a chatbot.

With the emergence of artificial intelligence providing opportunities to efficiently improve health care systems, a study has found that online chatbots are more likely to be used when discussing sexual health.

The report, created by Researchers at the University of Westminster in collaboration with UCL, was aimed to discover what topics people would rather talk about with AI than with their GP, assessing how perceived stigma and severity affect the accessibility of an automatic chatbot, a GP, or a combination.

person sitting while using laptop computer and green stethoscope near

For those with health conditions perceived as highly severe such as cancer, they would be less likely to use Artificial Intelligence, preferring a GP instead. Overall, GPs were still a preferred option, followed by a combination – it was only for issues such as sexual health that Chatbots were the preferred option.

237 people took part in the study which was carried out through Facebook. 73% of people were female, 65% were over 45, and 55% had a degree or higher, and most had no prior knowledge of chatbots though they understood the technology when it was explained.

This research indicates that the use of AI in healthcare should be used only when most suitable.

Dr Tom Nadarzynski, the lead author of the study from The University of Westminster, said in the report: ‘Future research should identify which chatbots designs and functions lead to optimal engagement with this innovation.’

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