Collaborating Authors

Indexing Stories for Conversational Health Interventions

AAAI Conferences

Personal stories encoding health information are an effective tool for promoting health behavior change. As millions of stories about health are accumulated daily in blogs and in social networks online there is an opportunity to harvest and index a large database of health stories for interventions. We envision such a database increasing user education, engagement, motivation and rapport in our conversational agent-based health intervention systems. In this paper we propose a model of indexing health stories based on health behavior change theory, enhanced demographics and quality metrics.

The way forward for vector control


Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, and dengue fever is a complex problem. Major reductions in transmission require multiple different interventions, including both disease treatment and vector control. This is particularly crucial in the high-transmission areas where conditions are optimal, or when epidemics are triggered. However, insect-control interventions are becoming less effective; development, evaluation, and introduction of new interventions are slow; and there is limited understanding of just how important these interventions are. To sustain and optimize disease control efforts, it will be necessary to develop more informative models that can inform the timely introduction of new control interventions.

Humanoid Robots and Spoken Dialog Systems for Brief Health Interventions

AAAI Conferences

We combined a spoken dialog system that we developed to deliver brief health interventions with the fully autonomous humanoid robot (NAO). The dialog system is based on a framework facilitating Markov decision processes (MDP). It is optimized using reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms with data we collected from real user interactions. The system begins to learn optimal dialog strategies for initiative selection and for the type of confirmations that it uses during theinteraction. The health intervention, delivered by a 3D character instead of the NAO, has already been evaluated, with positive results in terms of task completion, ease of use, and future intention to use the system.  The current spoken dialog system for the humanoid robot is a novelty and exists so far as a proof ofconcept.

Behavior Change Techniques and Their Mechanisms of Action: A Synthesis of Links Described in Published Intervention Literature


Behavior plays a key role in maintaining health, and in the prevention, management, and treatment of disease and disability. Activities such as smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity, and certain dietary behaviors contribute to the global disease burden and often lead to premature death [1, 2]. There has been a steady global increase in diseases attributed to behavioral risk factors, with substantial associated losses in national income. The need for effective and cost-effective health-related behavior change interventions is acute. Despite rapid growth in behavioral intervention research, the effects of behavioral interventions continue to be typically small, variable, and not maintained long-term [3, 4].

COVID-19 highlights what we have yet to learn about lung mechanics

PBS NewsHour

Mona Eskandari, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Riverside, is conducting research to combat lung damage due to overventilation. The lungs undergo extensive stretching with each breath. The organ is made of materials such as collagen and elastin, which help them elongate and snap back. Damage to these biophysical structures can lead to chronic respiratory difficulties or even death. The growing demand for ventilators in the COVID-19 pandemic has doctors concerned about ventilator-induced lung injury, often caused by the tissue experiencing forces beyond physiological bounds.